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History of ICADP

The Illinois Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty was founded in 1976 by Mary Alice Rankin following the reinstatement of the death penalty in the state of Illinois. The death penalty was previously invalidated in the US in 1972 by the Supreme Court in the case Furman v Georgia as the use of the death penalty was deemed too arbitrary, which made it a form of cruel and unusual punishment.

Since its inception, ICADP has worked to educate people about the problems with the death penalty: the problem of innocence, the high cost of the death penalty, and the harm the capital punishment system does to victims' families, among others. ICADP has built a strong coalition including the Illinois Bar Association, the ACLU, Amnesty International, the Catholic Conference, the Jewish Council on Urban Affairs, the League of Women Voters, and other organizations. Over the years, ICADP has developed strong grassroots support and a comprehensive legislative strategy which, together, ultimately led to the repeal of the death penalty in Illinois.

In March, 2011, after a two-year intensive campaign, ICADP successfully abolished the death penalty in the state and reallocated the funds left over in the capital litigation fund to law enforcement training and services to murder victim family members. The win caused Illinois to become the sixteenth state in the nation to repeal the death penalty, and the fourth to do so within the last five years. Illinois’ success is a testament to the current national trend toward abolition and is a model for other states still working to achieve abolition.

To ensure this national momentum continues, it is imperative that Illinois does not re-introduce the death penalty. ICADP’s work is not finished. Recently members of the Illinois legislature have introduced bills in the General Assembly to reinstate the death penalty in Illinois. ICADP is now focused on fighting off these reinstatement efforts and maintaining a death penalty free state in the years to come.