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. John Calif

    Illinois governor signs death penalty ban
    Except in the case of abortion.

    March 9, 2011 at 2:56 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Lola

    Chicago needs to separate from the rest of the state. One county in the state is large enough to govern contrary to the rest of the state. It is shambles economically and it's not fair to rural residents.

    March 9, 2011 at 2:57 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Richard

    Typical democrat. He knows if they ever started enforcing the law, it would be an endless parade of BLACKS going to the needle so of course, something is "wrong" with the penalty.

    March 9, 2011 at 2:57 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jay

      @heraldofwhoa Terrible, terrible example. The automobile: serves a useful purpose, benefits society, and 99% of the time isn't used to kill someone. Death Penalty: The reverse of everything I just listed. The death penalty is useless in the eyes of everyone except blood thirsty, low brain functioning, cavemen.

      March 9, 2011 at 3:19 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Guest

    Another fine move forward by the great Govenor Quinn! By the way have you looked at the financial books of Illinois??? How about the prison population?? Who will you be letting out of prison to accomodate the murderers? Ahhhh....the child molesters...I see...... Glad that I got out of Illinois before Pat screwed it up more than it already was.

    March 9, 2011 at 2:58 pm | Report abuse |
  5. deecee

    Again; the death penalty is not meant as a deterrent to crime but to eliminate a threat to society in the cases of "unreformable" / damaged human beings who refuse to or are incapable of abiding by the law. Not complicated!

    March 9, 2011 at 2:58 pm | Report abuse |
  6. zooompilot

    Close the prisons too. No telling how many innocent people are in prison. As a matter of fact, outlaw all punishment all together, no telling how many people get punished mistakenly.

    I have personal first hand knowledge of being wrongly accused. I once got a speeding ticket that I knew was totally incorrect. Despite my pleas of innocence I was found guilty and had to pay a $100 fine! This is why the police needs to be disbanded – how many innocent people do they arrest and cite each day?

    Simply dismantle the criminal justice system altogether and lets have gun duels at high noon as a way of settling all disputes.

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

      If I adopt your (annoyingly sarcastic) approach then I could just as easily say EVERYONE should be executed. That way you can be SURE all the murderers are taken care of!

      March 9, 2011 at 3:08 pm | Report abuse |
  7. How Sad

    How sad,Now the criminals on fear a country club prison.3 hot meals,dental,medical,education,tv So how is removing the death penalty a deterant? But attention all criminals please leave South Carolina and head there.Maybe all the bordering states will see crime reduced.Hope the governor get a taste first.

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

      Wait – you don't even live in Illinois but you're angry over the Illinois governor's decision to outlaw the death penalty in his state? You go further to wish harm on the governor?

      Seek professional help as soon as possible – for your sake and those around you.

      March 9, 2011 at 4:52 pm | Report abuse |
  8. human216

    This really is not a debatable issue. Capital punishment is really just an example of absurdity in our country. There can be no reasonable argument that vengeance outweighs the fact that innocent people have/will be put to death by their government. The state should not be put in a position to have that blood on its hands. It is not possible to administer the death penalty fairly and justly. I'm sorry but the only argument for the death penalty is an irrational argument. We should be striving to be a country where laws are passed by ration/reason not emotion and vengeance. This is a tiny inch forward and hopefully will become a federal law in my lifetime. Kudos to Illinois!

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

    The death penalty is classist and racist. I am glad to see it go here. Since it was reinstated here in 1977, more people have had to be freed from death row because they were found to be innocent than has been executed.

    March 9, 2011 at 3:04 pm | Report abuse |
    • John Calif

      Please state specifically how it is racist? This wouldn't be another post misusing the word racist would it?

      March 9, 2011 at 3:11 pm | Report abuse |
    • JimKenefick

      The actual numbers, for the U.S:
      Since 1977, number of executions: 749
      Since 1973, number of exonerations (freed): 103

      March 9, 2011 at 3:25 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jay

      @John Calif "Please state specifically how it is racist? " Gladly. 267 exonerations (wrongful convictions overturned) have occured since 1989. 159 of those (again, WRONGFUL convictions being overturned) were cases with black defendants. That's 60%..... 17 of those exonarations were inmates on death row. All but 5 (71%) were black or hispanic. In a a country where whites make up roughly 70% of the populus, roughly 70% of the people who are almost WRONGFULLY killed by the legal system are black or hispanic. And that's only the one's we know about. Racist enough for ya?

      March 9, 2011 at 3:39 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Tom

    "Illinois governor signs death penalty ban"......except for victims of people who commit murder.

    March 9, 2011 at 3:04 pm | Report abuse |
    • John

      Murder is illegal in Illinois.

      March 9, 2011 at 3:15 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Shneeky

    When people speak of the death penalty being a deterrent we must address that on two levels: 1- does it deter OTHERS from committing crimes out of fear of being executed? I'd say probably not. 2 – does it deter/prevent someone convicted of a capital offense from re-committing the same or similar crime? I'd say definitely. Which is more important????

    March 9, 2011 at 3:05 pm | Report abuse |
    • Kimo

      What's important is that you don't execute innocent victims of an imperfect system of justice.

      March 9, 2011 at 3:19 pm | Report abuse |
    • Boheme

      Neither because since the CP was reintroduced homicide rates did not drop – they are still the same like in the 60s or 70s, with or without DP. But there have been a number of DNA exonerations over the years, and good statistical chance is there is someone on the death row is innocent (main reasonb for the Illinois gogernor to take such step). Killing innocent person would be INEXCUSABLE, it may have already happened in TX.

      March 9, 2011 at 3:22 pm | Report abuse |
    • SFK

      Could not agree with you more!

      March 9, 2011 at 3:46 pm | Report abuse |
    • Bob

      Shneeky, it's important to make the distinction between Deterrent and Prevent. You're absolutely correct that it's not an effective deterrent, and there is a mountain of data to prove it. It's not secret that states (and developed countries) with the death penalty have statistically higher rates of violent crime.

      Now, if someone is convicted of a capital crime, it's incarceration that prevents (not deters) it from happening again, not an active death penalty.

      March 9, 2011 at 3:54 pm | Report abuse |
    • Truth

      "it is better that one hundred guilty Persons should escape than that one innocent Person should suffer." - Benjamin Franklin, Founding Father.

      March 9, 2011 at 4:01 pm | Report abuse |
    • john kesrouan

      kimo In Illinois now it means you just keep them in prison for life.

      March 9, 2011 at 4:03 pm | Report abuse |
    • BOB

      If we want yo deter crime we need to practice "Caning" like in Singapore. They have one of the lowest crime rates in the world and little need for capital punishment.

      March 9, 2011 at 4:12 pm | Report abuse |
    • Terry

      You are getting it wrong. There are plenty of things I don't do that I would otherwise do, because the penalty outweighs the benefit.

      Speeding by 5 MPH on a sunny, dry day on a freeway with a 65 MPH limit but which was designed by traffic engineers in the late 1960's/early 1970's for 85 MPH traffic in cars with fewer safety features that current models is one of them. There's no reason backed by the laws of physics for not going 85 MPH under these conditions, there's only a sign with an arbitrarily low speed limit that has been creeping up from the Jan 2nd 1974 "gas crisis" 55 MPH limit.

      Paying my taxes, despite ~35% of the money buying me nothing more than dead children in foreign countries, is something I do only because of the potential penalty for not doing so.

      The intent of the penalties handed out by the justice system is almost solely to act as a deterrent to potential future violators. It's not to punish the wicked, and it's not to obtain vengence for a victim or their relatives. We wouldn't have differential penalties for juvenile offenders, and we wouldn't distinguish "manslaughter" from "first degree murder" if we wanted to disincent crime equally by its result: dead is dead for the victim.

      In this sense, it doesn't *matter* if you execute actual guilty people or not, so long as they have been found guilty by the justice system - which is to say, a jury of their peers. The only issue is that the value increases the swifter the penalty is enacted. Yes, mistakes will be made, but they will be made to the net benefit to society.

      March 9, 2011 at 4:15 pm | Report abuse |
    • s.sam

      Life in Prison without chance for Parole would also prevent a convicted offender from reoffending. No need to resort to the death penalty for that.

      March 9, 2011 at 4:39 pm | Report abuse |
    • RoadRunner, Albuquerque, NM

      I agree with your reasoning, and with Illinois in its decision to focus it's efforts on "prevention." So far, Sirhan Sirhan has not taken any more lives; nor has Charles Manson so far as I know. And neither of them have met the requirements for parole. Now that is a good track record in terms of safety of the public, without resorting to acts of barbarism which runs a very real risk of wrongfully taking the life of an innocent human being.

      March 9, 2011 at 4:43 pm | Report abuse |
    • Boatnmaniac

      Shneeky, I'm pretty sure you think you would never be wrongly convicted of murder and sentenced to death....just like all those others on Illinois' death row who were later exonerated. And just how many other wrongly convicted people were wrongly executed? Oh, that's right, you don't care. Never mind.

      March 9, 2011 at 4:44 pm | Report abuse |
    • Rubbub

      But what would be a good reason for keeping a mass murderer alive if it's known beyond a doubt that he committed all the murders, premeditated, and did so by using blunt force in a way that the victims were barely recognized? In this case, the young man killed 8 people within 1 week, surprizing his un-related very innocent victims with an ax.

      To me, this would be a waste of time and effort to keep this waste of skin around and be an insult to his victims who were living their life innocently and looking forward to growing old.

      March 9, 2011 at 4:46 pm | Report abuse |
    • fofo

      Kimo, very well said.

      March 9, 2011 at 6:20 pm | Report abuse |
  12. T Dick Schmidt

    Personally I think they should outlaw prisons and jails tooo. With the same thought ......see we could make a mistake on any trial..........everyone should be set free and we will make them go to a nice liberal rehabilitation class in Chicago. I think they would see the light with the vast amount of Chicago locgic that I have seen here and become the next Chicago Mayor or Illinois governor (or has the criminal been picket out already)

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

      Oh no- liberal rehabilitation class in Chicago would definitely be considered cruel and unusual punishment!

      March 9, 2011 at 3:10 pm | Report abuse |
    • Cheesekun

      Ummm the point being that someone cannot be released once dead....

      March 9, 2011 at 3:12 pm | Report abuse |
    • T Dick Schmidt

      No and the victims NEVER get to be released.....................But I am sure the European and "other civilized nations" have a perfect justice system. No chancer of getting murdered in

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

      Yeah, that logic could be applied to all trials, but all trials do not result in the death of a prisoner. You can't "do over" a trial for an innocent convict if they are dead.

      March 9, 2011 at 3:26 pm | Report abuse |
    • DTB

      LOL @ american stupidity

      March 9, 2011 at 3:54 pm | Report abuse |
    • Bob

      Schmidt: One can always count on a Republican to attempt an argument based on an infantile ideology. Palinisms don't make your sound smart.

      March 9, 2011 at 3:56 pm | Report abuse |
    • Steve

      I see why you're named Dick.

      March 9, 2011 at 4:40 pm | Report abuse |
    • Texas installs an express lane for Capital Punishment

      Illinois, good job, now all the killers and criminals will be moving in with you all. Couldn't happen to a better POS state.
      I love all you Democraps up there, you are just so...............stupid and weak!!!!!

      March 9, 2011 at 4:40 pm | Report abuse |
    • republiCAN

      Just another way for the dems to spend more money life in prison with full medical,meals, ect. Who needs a job anymore...... Oh wait I forgot the NObama clan gives money to those that DONT want to work. So how's that change workin for you. PALIN 2012

      March 9, 2011 at 6:21 pm | Report abuse |
    • Cedar Rapids

      'Just another way for the dems to spend more money life in prison with full medical,meals,'
      yeah just a pity that it costs far more to execute someone than to keep them in prison for life.
      How are those facts doing for you?

      March 9, 2011 at 9:00 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Phil

    Yeah, lets not execute people that are a waste and harmful to society, and put them up with free room and board, free tv, 3 free meals a day, free work out facilities, able to have alot of friends to hang out with etc, and waste $50,000 a year on each of these idiots. Congrats.

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

      And if the one executed is innocent? I'd rather pay for a lifetime of meals for a guilty person than execute one innocent.

      March 9, 2011 at 3:12 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mike

      Except for the people who are executed that are actually innocent. Did you not get that memo?
      Oh and by the way, I'm sure you have absolutely no idea how much it actually costs to carry out a death sentence, do you.....

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

      Less than 1/1000 of the massive prison population in the United States is on death row.

      This decision in particular resulted in 12 people's sentences being commuted.
      Try to grow a sense of perspective.

      March 9, 2011 at 3:19 pm | Report abuse |
    • T Dick Schmidt

      You would rather let 98 murders gets life after the mayheim they have inficted upon we might be able to save 2 so that you can feel good about yourself and sustain your moral purity. The victims don't count even though they are 100% victims.

      March 9, 2011 at 3:20 pm | Report abuse |
    • Matt R

      ***so we might be able to save 2 so that you can feel good about yourself and sustain your moral purity. The victims don't count even though they are 100% victims.***

      Yup. An innocent person who is executed is 100% and is more innocent than the judge, jurors, police and prosecutor in the case.

      March 9, 2011 at 3:24 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jesus H. Crizzle

      Except the main fact that it costs more to execute than life in prison.

      March 9, 2011 at 3:24 pm | Report abuse |
    • John

      Actually, in fairness, most of them are rival drug dealers.

      March 9, 2011 at 3:24 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dallas957

      "You would rather let 98 murders gets life after the mayheim they have inficted upon we might be able to save 2 so that you can feel good about yourself"

      That's easy to say when you aren't the poor schmuck facing the needle for something you didn't do. Sounds like you need a lesson that will give you some perspective.

      March 9, 2011 at 3:25 pm | Report abuse |
    • Nancy

      So, you are saying that the few inncoent folks on Death Row should just suck it up and take one for the team? Would YOU make that sacrifice, to ensure CP continues. Would it be okay if your innocent kid was on death row? THAT is the arguement against it. To be able to kill the guilty, a few innocent will be killed as well. Unless you are willing to die in that way, don't suggest it for others.

      March 9, 2011 at 3:41 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jay

      @T Dick Schmidt So by your logic how many innocent lives are worth being sacrificed to make sure we get to kill murderers. Obviously 2 is worth it what about 1000? 1,000,000 maybe? At what point is wasting innocent lives not worth it anymore? Maybe not until it's your life that's wasted.

      March 9, 2011 at 3:48 pm | Report abuse |
    • Tom

      Many studies have shown that the cost of executing someone with all the appeals involved is higher than the cost of life in prison. If for no other reason than economic ones the death penalty should be banned.

      March 9, 2011 at 3:48 pm | Report abuse |
    • Steve

      @T Dick Schmidt I repeat, I see why you were named Dick.

      March 9, 2011 at 4:43 pm | Report abuse |
    • Cedar Rapids

      'T Dick Schmidt – You would rather let 98 murders gets life after the mayheim they have inficted upon we might be able to save 2 so that you can feel good about yourself and sustain your moral purity'
      Heck yeah, in a heartbeat. You would risk killing innocent people if the rest were guilty? really?

      March 9, 2011 at 6:01 pm | Report abuse |
    • leeintulsa

      Someone already said it. I'll say it again. With the obligatory appeals and what not, it is much more expensive for the state to kill people than keep them in prison for life. Not to mention our partner governments that kill their own citizens, ie libya, iran, china... Time to leave the dark ages behind.

      March 9, 2011 at 10:24 pm | Report abuse |
    • LEB

      @CW - How innocent can they be if they wind up on death row? If the evidence is weighty enough to get you put on death row, you CLEARLY did something pretty awful. Courts are pretty unlikely to be convinced that a good family man who never had so much as a traffic ticket in his life and was home with his wide and kids when the crime occurred would actually be guilty of a heinous act.

      March 10, 2011 at 1:29 am | Report abuse |
    • Ronald

      I don't have any issue at all if a few innocents get executed along the way as long as the majority are guilty. What a bunch of whining crybaby liberals we have in Illinois.

      March 10, 2011 at 9:23 am | Report abuse |
  14. Joshua

    Don't talk about costs...

    March 9, 2011 at 3:07 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mike

      Yes, because a website called is certainly non-biased...

      March 9, 2011 at 3:16 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dallas957

      It is well established that a death penalty trial costs more than keeping people in prison for life. Some states have abandoned the death penalty and some counties won't pursue it for that very reason.

      March 9, 2011 at 3:27 pm | Report abuse |
    • Derp

      How much does a bullet cost?


      They have guns

      1 bullet, 1 prisoner.

      Painless and efficient.

      March 9, 2011 at 3:45 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jay

      @Derp Yes, perhaps in Redneck valley this is an efficient method of justice. However, they have these little pesky thing called "rights" here in the civilized world. I'm not saying I agree with how convoluted our appeals process is, however "a bullet and a gun" as you say is not an option. The way death row really works is much, much more expensive and drawn out.

      March 9, 2011 at 4:06 pm | Report abuse |
    • Pro CP.

      TO JAY its not redneck valley. Why should we pay for someone to live for the rest of their"life" in prison when we could put them 6 ft under and not have to waste time money and effort keeping them alive for no good reason? I like the idea of a bullet or the chair. Cheap and effective. Chair costs no more than you using your clothes drier at home. Those commit a crime like that should pay for it. Not us.

      March 9, 2011 at 4:52 pm | Report abuse |
    • RLD

      Its not the execution that is so expensive its the endless appeals involved in a death penalty case that cost the huge amount of money

      March 9, 2011 at 5:10 pm | Report abuse |
  15. agriponius

    ll you braindead PARROTS who keep squawking "The death penalty has never been shown to be any kind of deterrent." have no idea where this idea came from, whether there are any scientific studies to demonstrate this idea, and even whether there is any historical precedence for such societal benevolence toward its worst criminals.

    In other words, cut the political correctness bullcrap and give me some hard facts. Otherwise, you make me puke.

    March 9, 2011 at 3:07 pm | Report abuse |
    • Cheesekun

      Do not expect us to educate you. Take it upon yourself to become better educated, go to school, learn how to analyze arguments critically. Once you have done this, then you can consider yourself less ignorant.

      March 9, 2011 at 3:14 pm | Report abuse |
    • John

      You can easily determine that there's no correlation between violent crime rates and the availability of the death penalty.

      Texas and Michigan are both high-crime states.
      Texas executes more people than any other state, and Michigan abolished the death penalty in the 1830s.

      Clearly, other factors are causing crime.


      And, of course, you could also consider that the murder rate in the United States as a whole is much, much higher than the rate in Canada and Europe, where the death penalty has been abolished.

      Or you could just think logically.
      For one thing, most people who commit crimes either don't care if they get caught or take precautions (geared to the severity of the punishment they might face) not to get caught.
      For another, life without parole is no slap on the wrist–definitely not in a state prison.

      March 9, 2011 at 3:23 pm | Report abuse |
    • T Dick Schmidt

      What Cheesie means is that you need to go to a nice liberal college , get feed the same pablem of orchestrated studies with contrived ends and learn the pure liberal ethics so you can be pure also. But I don't think they will ever let you in the top of the high tower that all the liberals look down from.

      March 9, 2011 at 3:23 pm | Report abuse |
    • Paul Revere

      T Dick Schmidt
      I'm a registered Republican, but people like you make us look like white trash rednecks. Find another party instead of bringing ours down. You have to be one of the biggest idiots I have seen on this board in some time

      March 9, 2011 at 4:51 pm | Report abuse |
    • republiCAN

      Thank god I live in TEXAS where we have an express lane for murderers geez the dumb dems need to wake up and no I do not support Obama. Palin 2012

      March 9, 2011 at 6:37 pm | Report abuse |
    • leeintulsa

      How's this – the violent (AND non-violent) crime rate here is higher than any of our allies. They don't have the death penalty, we do. That math simple enough for you?

      March 9, 2011 at 10:32 pm | Report abuse |
    • MSN-04

      Correlation does not imply causation. Learn about logical fallacies or you'll soon argue yourself off a cliff into incoherence.

      March 9, 2011 at 10:55 pm | Report abuse |
    • Cedar Rapids

      'MSN-04 – leeintulsa:Correlation does not imply causation.'
      tell that to the people trying to claim its a deterrant.

      March 9, 2011 at 10:58 pm | Report abuse |
    • LEB

      The death penalty isn't a deterrent. But it could be a money saver! Bullets don't cost much.

      March 10, 2011 at 1:39 am | Report abuse |
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