Western professor’s long arm influences death penalty vote in Midwestern state
Illinois House and Senate recently approve abolishing capital punishment
DANBURY, CONN. — A staunch proponent of abolishing the death penalty, Dr. George Kain, associate professor of justice and law administration (JLA) at Western Connecticut State University, has made it his mission to educate people across the country on the facts about the death penalty.
Just last month, Kain’s efforts paid off after the House and Senate in Illinois voted to abolish the death penalty — weeks after Kain sat down with lawmakers and law enforcement officials to give them the facts that the death penalty is costly and ineffective.
Initially, Kain got many scoffs from legislators in Illinois at his argument. “But after my last meeting with police chiefs in Illinois, they were grabbing at the pile of business cards I left on the table. I knew we had a real grip on this once we got the police to listen,” Kain said.
For the past several years, Kain and Terence Dwyer, assistant JLA professor at Western, have been involved with the National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty, an organization that sponsors training and national efforts to assist states to mobilize different groups. Kain said Illinois has been looking at huge layoffs of police officers, so he tapped into the fact that the more than $100 million spent on trying capital cases and then keeping prisoners on death row could instead be used for retention and training of police.
His ability to effectively spread the word paid off: on Jan. 6, the Illinois House of Representatives voted to abolish the death penalty 60-55; on Jan. 11 the state Senate also approved the bill. To be put into effect, the bill must now be signed by Democratic Gov. Pat QuinnAlthough Quinn has been a past supporter of capital punishment, the state has had a 10-year moratorium on executions. Whether he signs the bill, it will go into effect 60 days following Senate approval.
Kain believes that this is a good sign for Connecticut, which also has increased its number of supporters for abolishing the death penalty.
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