SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (NEXSTAR) — Getting back to the “tough on crime” approach has been a clear message from Republican candidates for governor during this election year.

That push has been taken a step further with Senator Darren Bailey’s bill to bring back the death penalty for people who kill police officers, and a bill from senator Neil Anderson. His proposal aims to bring back capital punishment for anyone convicted of killing any type of first responder.

 “Whichever one of these bills would eventually move I am supporting absolutely anything,” Bailey said Wednesday. 

People who fought to repeal the death penalty say the idea of bringing it back — even in limited cases — is a non-starter for them. John Hanlon spent years litigating death penalty cases in Illinois.

“It’s a very slippery slope. if you have a death penalty bill, on the books, and all we’re just going to limit it to this circumstance,” Hanlon, a retired director of the Illinois Innocence Project said. “Sorry, that doesn’t work. because along the way, other people in the legislature are going to want to add different circumstances to the bill.”

 We asked governor pritzker if he supports bringing back the death penalty for people convicted of killing police officers back in August of 2021.

Hanlon calls the death penalty a total policy failure — citing illinois’ high number of exonerated people. From 1990 up until the death penalty was abolished, illinois executed 12 people, but 21 people were exonerated as they were waiting on death row — the second highest total of any state in the nation.

“Our state has already had a death penalty and the experience that we have, we should not hesitate for a half a second to return to that experience,” Hanlon said.