Last time, we reviewed the data tracking the incidence of Illinois’ death penalty cases between 1990 and 2000. In this post, we’re looking at the final years of Illinois’ death penalty, from 2001 to the Court’s last death penalty case in 2010.
Between 1990 and 2000, Cook County dominated the death penalty docket. By 2001, the number of cases from Cook County had slowed dramatically. Cook County accounted for three death penalty cases in 2001, one in 2002, two in 2003 and one in 2004. No other county accounted for more than one per year. Du Page county produced one case a year in 2001, 2002 and 2003 and Kane County produced one case in 2001 and one in 2002. Other than that, seven additional counties produced one case each across these five years.
During the final years of the death penalty, Cook county accounted for one case per year in 2007, 2008 and 2009 and two in 2010. Du Page county produced one in 2009 and one in 2010. Hancock county had one case in 2010. Livingston county had one case in 2007. St. Clair county had its final case in 2006, Stark county had one in 2006 and Will county had its final case in 2009.
In our final table, we compare, for each county that produced at least one death penalty case, its share of the total population of death penalty counties to its share of the total docket of death penalty cases between 1990 and 2010. What we see is how much Illinois’ death penalty was driven by very small counties. Cook county has 48.98% of the population of all the death penalty counties and 54.46% of the total cases. But aside from Cook county, only eleven counties which have more than one percent of the death penalty counties’ population produced any cases at all: Du Page (8.78% of population); Lake (6.63%); Will (6.55%); Kane (5.05%); Winnebago (2.69%); Madison (2.5%); St. Clair (2.47%); Champaign (1.99%); Peoria (1.71%); Rock Island (1.36%) and Kanakakee (1.04%). And to be clear – these aren’t percentages of total population of the state – they are each county’s share of the total population of the thirty-eight counties which sent at least one death penalty case to the Supreme Court from 1990 to 2010. Illinois has 102 counties in all.
Join us back here later in the week as we take a closer look at the kinds of cases Cook county sent to the Supreme Court between 1990 and 2019.