Determined effort helps coalition abolish death penalty in Illinois

Repealing the death penalty in Illinois was deemed a long shot by most everyone, but that didn't stop the Illinois Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty.

Client: Illinois Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty (Chicago)
PR agency: Mac Strategies Group (Chicago)
Campaign: Abolishing the Death Penalty in Illinois (a statewide campaign)
Duration: June 17, 2010-March 31, 2011
Budget: $28,500

Repealing the death penalty in Illinois was deemed a long shot by most everyone, even though the state had a 10- year moratorium in place on state-sponsored executions.

That didn't stop the Illinois Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty. Mac Strategies Group, a firm experienced in handling advocacy issues, built a campaign around the coalition's assertion that the "death penalty system is broken beyond repair" and costly to taxpayers.

The repeal bill before state legislature squeaked by with a win. On March 9, Gov. Pat Quinn (D) signed it into law.

"We would not have succeeded without Mac," says the coalition's executive director Jeremy Schroeder.

Strategy
"We used a 'dimmer [switch]' campaign: We didn't turn the switch on at first," says Ryan McLaughlin, Mac Strategies CEO. "When it was time to vote, we turned on the lights."

By that McLaughlin means his team initially worked be-hind the scenes, meeting with journalists, creating talking points, and collaborating with the client to draft and place opinion pieces and letters to the editor.

Tactics
Mac Strategies developed messaging to illustrate why it was time to abolish the death penalty; kept the coalition on point to lessen opponents' criticism; and coordinated news conferences in Chicago and Springfield, IL, to kick off an aggressive legislative push for abolition.

Results
The campaign secured 21 editorials calling for abolition in the state's largest newspapers.

Future
The coalition remains vigilant, as the law could change again. In March, Rep. Dennis Reboletti (R-IL) introduced a bill to reinstate capital punishment for "worst of the worst" criminals.

Have you registered with us yet?

Register now to enjoy more articles and free email bulletins

Register
Already registered?
Sign in