Date: February 16, 2007
Contact: Lindsay Gladstone
Governors State University
Phone: (708) 534-7090
Fax: (708) 534-8399
For Immediate Release
University Park, Illinois, February 16, 2007 – On February 26, Dr. James “Chip” Coldren of Governors State University will be in Chicago with the 15 other members of the Capital Punishment Reform Study Committee listening to the testimony of the learned, the concerned, the professionals, and the passionate.
The Committee, chaired by Thomas Sullivan, Partner at Jenner & Block, LLP, will hear testimony from the public concerning Illinois death penalty reform measures at 10 a.m. in the Auditorium on the Concourse Level of the J.R. Thompson Center, 100 West Randolph Street, Chicago.
The Committee’s job is to listen to testimony and to research, review, and analyze the impact of more than 30 different reform measures on the administration of capital punishment in Illinois. The reforms were enacted by the Illinois legislature or developed by Illinois Supreme Court rulings over the past five years.
“The reforms cover every aspect of the criminal justice system, from police practices and the crime lab to the courts and the post-conviction process,” said Coldren, who was appointed to the Committee by Speaker of the House Michael Madigan when it was first formed in 2003.
Some of the specific reforms being analyzed by the /committee concern the practice of video taping all suspect interviews in murder investigations and police lineup procedures.
“The Committee’s job is to determine the impact of these reforms, to assess the costs, and to eventually see if we are improving the administration of justice,” added Coldren who is Academic Program Coordinator of the Criminal Justice Program and Co-Director of the Center for Law Enforcement Technology Collaboration at Governors State University.
“The public hearings are not to discuss the pros and cons of the death penalty, but to learn about the impact of the reforms,” explained Coldren.
According to Coldren, the public hearings are important avenues of information for the Committee. “This research is difficult, as it takes time for death penalty cases to work through the system. Researching active cases is hard because there are ethical restrictions regarding public discussion or disclosure pertaining to active cases.”
Coldren, however, is committed to the process and the importance of this work. “We do not get paid, but I am passionate about reform and improvement of the system. We have a responsibility to study these reforms. Debates about justice need accurate information to help the public, practitioners, and legislators make good decisions. We need to act on knowledge, not just passion.”
For more information on the public hearings, call (630) 510-7703.