In March 2011, Illinois abolished the death penalty. This monumental advance occurred only after years of hard work, inside and outside of the courtroom, by a coalition of community leaders, grassroots advocates and lawyers, including the lawyers at the Roderick and Solange MacArthur Justice Center. Read Tribune columnist Eric Zorn's piece listing the people involved over the years in fighting to abolish the state's death penalty, including the Justice Center's founding attorney, David J. Bradford, and Justice Center Executive Director Locke Bowman.
On the litigation side, the Justice Center has represented capital defendants at all stages of the process. Justice Center founding attorney David Bradford was the principal lawyer in the first federal challenge to Illinois' post-Gregg death penalty statute. Bradford also spearheaded an important challenge to the constitutionality of the jury instructions in Illinois death penalty cases. Justice Center attorneys authored several important amicus briefs focusing on flaws in the capital punishment system in Illinois during the Illinois death penalty era.
On the public education side, the Center was a leading voice against the use of capital punishment in Illinois and was an early advocate for the death penalty moratorium which Illinois Governor George Ryan imposed in January 2000.