Illinois governor signs death penalty ban
March 9th, 2011
01:40 PM ET

Illinois governor signs death penalty ban

Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn announced Wednesday that he has signed legislation eliminating the death penalty in his state, more than 10 years after the state halted executions.

"Fellow citizens, we cannot escape history," Quinn (pictured), a Democrat, told reporters in making the announcement.

Illinois conducted its last execution in 1999. Then-Gov. George Ryan halted executions in 2000, after a series of death row inmates were exonerated. Quinn said his review had convinced him that it was impossible to administer capital punishment without mistakes, and abolishing it was "the right and just thing."

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Filed under: Crime • Death Penalty • Illinois • Justice
soundoff (477 Responses)
  1. johndburger

    @Charlie those people don't have any such fear. The death penalty has never been shown to be any kind of deterrent.

    March 9, 2011 at 1:50 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • Aaron

      So very, very, wrong. It works extremely well in other countries that don't let the whinny, bleeding heart, liberals, interfere and give convicted criminals endless appeals.

      March 9, 2011 at 1:53 pm | Report abuse |
    • Cedar Rapids

      'Aaron – So very, very, wrong. It works extremely well in other countries that don't let the whinny, bleeding heart, liberals, interfere and give convicted criminals endless appeals'
      You mean the countries that dont care if an innocent person is executed as long as someone pays?

      March 9, 2011 at 1:57 pm | Report abuse |
    • John

      Opposition to the death penalty isn't strictly a liberal thing.

      Recall, for example, that the Catholic Church officially opposes capital punishment.
      Benedict is a lot of things, but a screaming liberal he ain't.

      March 9, 2011 at 2:04 pm | Report abuse |
    • Pam

      I have to be honest, I never thought of it being a deterrent. I look at the death penalty as something that saves us from supporting people who just really need to not be alive anymore. Now, in Illinois – there were so many cases where people were cleared of their crimes,that I respected Ryan's hold on executions. It's really the only decent thing he did while he was in office. But banning executions all-together because of past mistakes seems a little much for me.

      March 9, 2011 at 2:06 pm | Report abuse |
    • Cedar Rapids

      'But banning executions all-together because of past mistakes seems a little much for me'
      Can you guarantee 100% that an innocent person will not be executed in the future? 1 is 1 too many.

      March 9, 2011 at 2:10 pm | Report abuse |
    • John

      The death penalty's just not necessary.

      Life imprisonment without possibility of parole serves the same public safety function while at the same time reducing the possibility of an uncorrectable miscarriage of justice.

      March 9, 2011 at 2:11 pm | Report abuse |
    • brian

      Whatevs, I think all criminals should be beat and executed in the worst way possible depending on their offense.

      March 9, 2011 at 2:23 pm | Report abuse |
    • Doc

      You mean countries like Iran, Saudi Arabia, China, Libya, and Indonesia? Yeah, let's be more like them. Folks, that's the direction the tea baggers want to take America. Do you really want to go along for that ride?

      March 9, 2011 at 2:27 pm | Report abuse |
    • John

      Aaron, Please name me the countries where it "works". I'm unaware of any country that has no crime? And if there are, why aren't you living there?

      March 9, 2011 at 2:31 pm | Report abuse |
    • SigmundFreud

      @aaron:

      That's right. The death penalty is such a deterrent that countries WITHOUT the death penalty – including your next door neighbour Canada – has a fraction of the murder rate that the US has.

      Perhaps you can explain why the murder rate in Texas – the death penalty capital of the western world – is three times greater than the murder rate in Canada, and five times greater than the murder rate in England and other European countries.

      March 9, 2011 at 2:32 pm | Report abuse |
    • dave

      I think the best reason to eliminate the death penalty (especially in Illinois) is because some over zealous prosecutors do whatever it takes to get a conviction even if it means fabricating evidence and convicting innocent people on occasion. Saying that the death penalty is not a deterrent is not true. There has never been an incident where a person has been put to death and then committed another serious crime (or any crime for that matter). I would call that a deterrent.

      March 9, 2011 at 2:41 pm | Report abuse |
    • mike

      so ban the death penalty, and ban tv, internet, libraries, workout rooms, and any other luxury in prison, including feeding them only what they need to live and make it a true punishment instead of a home away from home. maybe that will be a deterrent. no abuse, just no luxuries

      March 9, 2011 at 2:50 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jeff

      Texas definitely executed an innocent man who was accused of setting his house on fire to kill his wife and kids. It was an accidental fire inspected by an unlicensed police representative. A clearly innocent man was put to death and Texas officials covered it up out of pride. The death penalty is immoral and should be abolished.

      March 9, 2011 at 2:56 pm | Report abuse |
    • JWG

      So what? Prison hasn't proven to be much of a deterrant either.

      March 9, 2011 at 3:00 pm | Report abuse |
    • american citizen

      None of the punishments on the legal books deter criminals. First of all criminals don't think about punishment when they are doing a crime, so how can it be a deterrent? Oh, we just put them away for years and years? That isn't really dealing with the problem either. We just gives more tax dollars to the prisons who take care of the people in them. I smell a conflict of interest here......... do prisons really rehabilitate?

      March 9, 2011 at 3:08 pm | Report abuse |
    • SigmundFreud

      @aaron

      You keep on nattering on about "other countries". Which other countries did you have in mind? The only ones I can thing of are communist China, Iran, and Saudi Arabia.

      That's real fine company you put yourself into.

      March 9, 2011 at 3:14 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Aaron

    Pathetic, but that's all you ever get with a liberal in charge.

    March 9, 2011 at 1:50 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • Paul

      FYI – it as a Republican who put the hiatus in place to begin with.

      March 9, 2011 at 2:05 pm | Report abuse |
    • Nick Normal

      Aaron don't care about facts! or History! just in being Right! aint that right Aaron! go get 'em tiger!

      March 9, 2011 at 2:08 pm | Report abuse |
    • Pam

      Ryan was a Republican, dear.

      March 9, 2011 at 2:17 pm | Report abuse |
    • SigmundFreud

      @aaron:

      That's right. The death penalty is such a deterrent that countries WITHOUT the death penalty – including your next door neighbour Canada – have a fraction of the murder rate that the US has.

      Perhaps you can explain why the murder rate in Texas – the death penalty capital of the western world – is three times greater than the murder rate in Canada, and five times greater than the murder rate in England and other European countries.

      If you understand simple arithmetic, that is.

      March 9, 2011 at 2:33 pm | Report abuse |
    • PRO-DEATH PENALTY

      Aaron I agree with you 100% Bleeding hearts etc. Wait until one of their loved ones is killed by a thug and see if they change their tune. Watch the murder rate go up in Illinois now... Sad day that a person can murder someone and they get free room and board in prison for the rest of their life. I say if there is no doubt -- FRY UM!!!!!!!!!!!! Heck with the lethal injections, the person they murdered didnt have a choice.

      March 9, 2011 at 2:40 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dachau

      Name one western civilized country that supports death penalty.... Seems AARON wants to be the next Osama. I would also recommend reading the bible in it's original Greek and Aramaic text not King James before making references to it here.

      March 9, 2011 at 3:01 pm | Report abuse |
    • JomoDaMusicMan

      Aaron, u sound foolish because the average person in America under the age of (30) would choose the death penalty over life without a possibility of parole. I would love to see u or one of your loved ones falsely accused and then given the death penality. A big problem with the death Penality is it usually targets Black & Poor citizens. How many rich murders have been given the Death Penality.

      March 9, 2011 at 3:13 pm | Report abuse |
    • SigmundFreud

      @aaron

      You keep nattering on about "other countries". Which other countries did you have in mind? The only ones I can thing of are communist China, Iran, and Saudi Arabia.

      That's real fine company you put yourself into.

      March 9, 2011 at 3:15 pm | Report abuse |
    • Steve

      Ryan was a Republican you jerk. It's people like you that are ruining America.

      March 9, 2011 at 3:16 pm | Report abuse |
    • John

      Pro-Death Penalty:

      There were only twelve people on death row in Illinois.

      March 9, 2011 at 3:29 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Scott

    F- that, what kind of idiot would ban that. Jesus what the hell is wrong with people from Illinois, electing this moron.

    March 9, 2011 at 1:51 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • Paul NYC

      Nice work evoking someone that was wrongly executed. Who says irony is dead?

      March 9, 2011 at 1:53 pm | Report abuse |
    • Juan Carlos de Burbon

      @paulNYC

      Jesus was SUPPOSED to die for our sins or else the gates of Heaven wouldn't have been opened up.

      It's usually disastrous when Liberals try to quote scripture. For them it's all about twisting the truth to tailor their needs.

      March 9, 2011 at 2:00 pm | Report abuse |
    • Cedar Rapids

      'It's usually disastrous when Liberals try to quote scripture. For them it's all about twisting the truth to tailor their needs.'
      Nah that would be those that used the bible to justify slavery and racism.

      March 9, 2011 at 2:03 pm | Report abuse |
    • Rick

      So, if God wanted Jesus to die, does that mean that God's a murderer and needs to be executed?

      March 9, 2011 at 2:04 pm | Report abuse |
    • chitownphilly

      Why don't you leave our business to us, you clearly are more of a moron than any of us voters here in IL (except the ones that elected Mark Kirk).

      March 9, 2011 at 2:12 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Cesar

    This is not just a sign of the End of Days, but also a clear sign that the U.S. needs to fully invade Libya, establish a full-time military compound, and seize all of their oil wells – all in the name of preserving Western ideology and spreading our faith. I hope you can see the correlation, I certainly can.

    March 9, 2011 at 1:52 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • Guest

      i totally disagree with cesar's comments which may be sarcasm but you never know

      March 9, 2011 at 2:27 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Phil

    Nicely done Illinois!

    March 9, 2011 at 1:52 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • Mmmmm

      Invoking the death penalty should be rare if ever necessary in USA they can be locked away from society for the rest of their natural life. Even more so if the death penalty process is incapable of excluding harming the innocent gov did the right thing.

      March 9, 2011 at 2:59 pm | Report abuse |
  6. dee

    I totally agree with you charlie!This gives a free reign to the sick child molesters and serial killers.They can kill with impunity.Sick that they seek cheap popularity with this stunt.

    March 9, 2011 at 1:53 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • michael

      pretty sure you don't know what the word "impunity" means.

      March 9, 2011 at 2:27 pm | Report abuse |
  7. TI

    Maybe you idiots didn't read the article properly:
    "after a series of death row inmates were exonerated...his review had convinced him that it was impossible to administer capital punishment without mistakes"

    Human error murders innocent citizens, is that really what you want? Sucks that those who deserve to die won't but at least the ones that deserve to live aren't being unjustly killed.

    March 9, 2011 at 1:54 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • Ani

      Reading comprehension is difficult for some.

      March 9, 2011 at 1:57 pm | Report abuse |
    • Cedar Rapids

      Yeah some people see 'death penalty ban' and read 'opened the cells and let everyone out'

      March 9, 2011 at 1:59 pm | Report abuse |
    • MM22

      cedar: "Yeah some people see 'death penalty ban' and read 'opened the cells and let everyone out'"

      Straw men are cute, but they tend to show your lack of intelligence and understanding of an issue.

      When people see "death penalty ban" they think either 1) that the innocent won't be executed, or 2) that the guilty will escape ultimate justice.

      March 9, 2011 at 2:02 pm | Report abuse |
    • DoctorV

      I happen to agree with you but I know a lot of people don't – but however you feel about capital punishment, there is no arguing with the fact that years on death row and countless appeals costs the taxpayer a lot more than just putting these guys behind bars for life. Even if I liked the death penalty I think I would consider voting it out on those grounds alone.

      March 9, 2011 at 2:04 pm | Report abuse |
    • Cedar Rapids

      'Straw men are cute, but they tend to show your lack of intelligence and understanding of an issue.'
      yeah, its just a pity that a posting just above ours happened to say......
      'This gives a free reign to the sick child molesters and serial killers.They can kill with impunity'
      I think that kind of proves my point.

      March 9, 2011 at 2:05 pm | Report abuse |
    • heraldofwhoa

      All things done by humans are subject to human error. Somethings done by humans have life and death coincidences. Thousands of innocent people are killed each year by automobile accidents, should we ban the automobile? You fail.

      March 9, 2011 at 2:58 pm | Report abuse |
    • Cedar Rapids

      'Thousands of innocent people are killed each year by automobile accidents, should we ban the automobile?'
      yeah comparing accidents to deliberate killing by the state is a fail itself.

      March 9, 2011 at 3:32 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Art In Chicago

    Takes guts to do what he and Ryan did. Death is not a deterrent and does little in terms of retribution. If you are concerned about your tax dollars, well certainly money should take precendence over everything.

    March 9, 2011 at 1:54 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • MM22

      art: "Death is not a deterrent and does little in terms of retribution."

      This is disingenuous. The studies are inconclusive about the deterrence effect, just as they are when looking at the deterrence effect of long and short prison sentences.

      "does little in terms of retribution"

      You do realize that the death penalty, you know, puts the murderer to death, right? That's the ultimate in retribution, isn't it.

      March 9, 2011 at 2:00 pm | Report abuse |
    • Art In Chicago

      No MM22, it's the ultimate revenge and for those who witness it, they still feel emptiness from their personal loss. Not disingenious, just realilstic.

      March 9, 2011 at 2:09 pm | Report abuse |
    • michael

      better yet, perhaps we should stop spending billions of dollars to prosecute men and women who are (gasp!) smoking marijuana. conservatives are always chirping about reducing costs and libertarian values, so this seems like a perfect solution. too bad the prison lobby (yes, there is a prison lobby) is too powerful to risk losing its cash cow.

      March 9, 2011 at 2:30 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Josh

    It makes sense. The death penalty costs too much, doesn't prevent crime, and can accidently execute the innocent (Texas anyone?). There is a reason that abolishing it is the trend. Also, I've met many murder victims family members who want it abolished. I'm happy to see it go in Illinois.

    March 9, 2011 at 1:54 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • John

      There are problems beyond that, actually.

      One that's not generally thought about that much is the effect of the punishment's availability on trial fairness.
      Death penalty states generally allow prosecutors to "death qualify" juries in death penalty cases.

      That means that on the voir dire, they're allowed to ask prospective jurors whether they are categorically opposed to the death penalty.
      Demographically, this has the effect of making the jury whiter, older, and more male–and could therefore impact on the Sixth Amendment guarantee of an "impartial jury."

      March 9, 2011 at 2:07 pm | Report abuse |
    • The Blessed

      I had never considered the impact the death penalty has on jury selection. Thanks for that insight.

      March 9, 2011 at 3:04 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Ani

    Congrats Illinois!

    March 9, 2011 at 1:54 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  11. illinois

    stupid move governor.......stupid, stupid, stupid. would someone stamp stupid on his forehead?? please? the system is so f-d up.

    March 9, 2011 at 1:55 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • Mary

      So you tell me who would have the right to kill u, ANSWER PLS , i would really like to hear it

      March 9, 2011 at 2:08 pm | Report abuse |
  12. David

    I've always felt life in prison was a far greater punishment than the death penalty,where it ends quickly. Studies have shown that the death penalty does not deter crime more than life imprisonment; in fact, some show the reverse to be true.

    Add to that the fact that if the justice system fails, as it does more often than we'd like to admit, you can actually release a prisoner, whereas you can't undo an execution.

    It makes sense.

    March 9, 2011 at 1:55 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • LC

      How can life in prison be considered worse than the death penalty? In prison they receive 3 meals a day...showers..have access to tv and computers and above all are eligible for an education that many hard working americans can't afford. How is this worse than the death penalty? The prisoners are treated better than homeless people. People that are convicted of a crime punishable by death should receive one appeal and then their execution should be carried out. Shortening the 20-30 year appeal process would greatly reduce the taxpayers expense and resolve the overcrowding issue at prisons.

      March 9, 2011 at 2:37 pm | Report abuse |
    • The Blessed

      @LC
      Of course you completely ignore the argument regarding the execution of innocent people.

      March 9, 2011 at 3:06 pm | Report abuse |
    • CW

      LC, and increase the number of wrongly executed innocent persons. You cool with that?

      March 9, 2011 at 3:09 pm | Report abuse |
  13. equally angry

    Very upsetting. Even the bible says eye for an eye.

    March 9, 2011 at 1:55 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • Cedar Rapids

      And what does it say about killing an innocent person in error?

      March 9, 2011 at 2:00 pm | Report abuse |
    • John

      'Course, it also says to love your enemies and pray for those who hurt you.

      ...And its main subject, let us recall, was himself a victim of capital punishment.

      March 9, 2011 at 2:01 pm | Report abuse |
    • Miles

      You're leaving out the rest. What did Jesus say about "eye for an eye"? Please don't misrepresent the Bible and Jesus!

      March 9, 2011 at 2:06 pm | Report abuse |
    • equally angry

      John & Cedars..... out of curiosity, how many of the innocent death penalty victims were convicted by DNA evidence? I'm guessing VERY VERY VERY few considering it usually takes 20-30 years of appeals to make it to the chamber. Consequently, I'd say that all arguments regarding innocent individuals may become moot once the execution schedule catches up with science

      March 9, 2011 at 2:10 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mary

      That's old testament. Read the new testament, silly:

      "You have heard that it was said, 'AN EYE FOR AN EYE, AND A TOOTH FOR A TOOTH.' But I say to you, do not resist an evil person; but whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also... You have heard that it was said, 'YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR and hate your enemy.' But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, (Matthew 5:38-39, 43-44)

      March 9, 2011 at 2:13 pm | Report abuse |
    • John

      Not all appeals turn on factual guilt.
      Actually, most of them don't.

      Because the United States has been committed since its founding to the idea of a fair trial on the facts and law, appellate courts are often asked to deal with questions other than "did he do it."

      As a matter of fact, appeal courts are usually NOT asked to interfere with factual findings made at the trial level–for the obvious reason that it's the trial courts that actually hear the evidence. Courts of appeal just get transcripts.

      March 9, 2011 at 2:15 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mary

      this is from the online bible in my favorites
      38¶Ye have heard that it hath been said, An aeye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth:

      39But I say unto you, That ye resist not aevil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right bcheek, cturn to him the other also.

      40And if any man will sue thee at the law, and take away thy coat, let him have thy cloke also.

      41And whosoever shall compel thee to go a mile, go with him twain.

      42aGive to him that asketh thee, and from him that would bborrow of thee turn not thou away.

      March 9, 2011 at 2:16 pm | Report abuse |
    • Cedar Rapids

      ' I'm guessing VERY VERY VERY few considering it usually takes 20-30 years of appeals to make it to the chamber.'
      And yet you have people here posting about how we should get rid of the appeals process and execute people quicker. I am going to assume you would be against that sort of move?

      There are also stories like the other day where it was reported one state, Texas I think it may have been, refused to carry out DNA testing on some evidence for something like 10 years and when it was eventually performed showed the guy in question to be innocent.

      You are also ignoring the possibility of a crime where no DNA is found to test against. What then? Shrug and assume guilt in those situations?

      March 9, 2011 at 2:16 pm | Report abuse |
    • John

      Was the trial fair?
      Did the trial judge erroneously admit any legally-inadmissible evidence?
      Was the jury impartial within the meaning of the Sixth Amendment?
      Did the accused have the effective assistance of counsel?
      Was the jury properly instructed as to the relevant law?

      ...Those are the kinds of issues Courts of Appeal most commonly deal with.
      "Questions of law," as we in the biz call them.

      Questions of fact, by contrast, are for the jury, not the judges.

      March 9, 2011 at 2:19 pm | Report abuse |
    • SigmundFreud

      More misquotation from the Bible. What the Bible really says is "An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth ... vengeance is MINE says the Lord". So are you God Almighty?

      The Book of Matthew also says:
      Ye have heard that it hath been said, An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth:

      But I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also.

      March 9, 2011 at 4:24 pm | Report abuse |
    • stigma

      It also tells us to forgive and not to kill

      March 9, 2011 at 6:17 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Wanda

    Well done Illinois! One step closer to a civil world. I think we have the right to protect ourselves, but don't think we can choose to end someone's life. That's just wrong!
    Plus, I think prison is a worse punishment anyway.

    March 9, 2011 at 1:56 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • Aaron

      People like you should have to pay the entire bill for criminals who deserve to die. Not one cent of any money I earn should ever be spent feeding these losers for life.

      March 9, 2011 at 2:01 pm | Report abuse |
    • Nick Normal

      I just bought a death row cheeseburger with Aaron's tax dollars. Thanks Aaron!

      March 9, 2011 at 2:10 pm | Report abuse |
    • Ani

      I don't see why people are willing to put a cap on how much money we should spend for public safety. Life in Prison? I'm willing to let my taxes pay for the safety of this country's citizens. So much better than my money paying to kill someone, worse if that someone is innocent.

      March 9, 2011 at 2:20 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mike Hunt

      I'm using the interwebs on your tax dollars from death row! take that ya beeotch!

      March 9, 2011 at 2:53 pm | Report abuse |
    • Steve

      You know. Aaron is really stupid. His lack of education shows.

      March 9, 2011 at 3:30 pm | Report abuse |
    • hstockwell

      What is it with people and money? Are you folks so greedy that you'd rather put an innocent person to death to save "your tax dollars". No matter how heinous a person is, that person is still a living, breathing human being. And you value money over life. Nice. I hope you don't call yourselves Christians.

      March 9, 2011 at 4:18 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Sandy

    Study after study has proven that the death penalty is not a deterent. It is banned in most of Europe yet the murder rate there is no higher, in fact lower, than in the U.S. However, we know for a fact that hundreds of innocent men have been "murdered" by the state due to fraudulent evidence, forced confessions or bad identification by victims. How many innocent lives lost are justified to get "revenge" on one murderer? It seems to me life in solitary confinement with no sunshine or fellowship is probably a much harsher penalty. I applaud a farsighted leadership that looks at the facts instead of the right-wing knee-jerk emotion.

    March 9, 2011 at 1:57 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • Aaron

      Just as many studies show the opposite.

      March 9, 2011 at 1:58 pm | Report abuse |
    • Ani

      Aaron, care to share these links to these studies? Everything I read explains how murderers often believe they can get away with the crime or the murder is done out of passion and isn't planned what so ever. In either of these cases, the Death Penalty does not and cannot act as a deterrent.

      Arguments for the Death Penalty I have seen is the cost it is to carry out a sentencing of Life in Prison and simply the idea that they can get out and commit the crime (or worse) again.

      March 9, 2011 at 2:03 pm | Report abuse |
    • NoSupriseHere

      Really? Please do tell Aaron. Im curious where your "studies" come from because you sound like a moron in your other posts.

      March 9, 2011 at 2:04 pm | Report abuse |
    • Aaron

      LMAO @ NoSupriseHere – a moron trying to call someone else a moron. Priceless.

      March 9, 2011 at 2:06 pm | Report abuse |
    • John

      I thought the death penalty is to get rid of the perpetrators. What is the cost of keeping someone in prison for the rest of their lives ? If somebody was wrongly convicted you would much rather they spend their life in jail than be executed. I think this issue is something that there should be a referendum on and not based on one person's ideology.

      March 9, 2011 at 2:18 pm | Report abuse |
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