Illinois legislature votes to abolish death penalty; governor's OK not assured
Illinois could become the next state to eliminate its death row.
January 12th, 2011
02:28 PM ET

Illinois legislature votes to abolish death penalty; governor's OK not assured

Illinois' state Senate voted Tuesday night to abolish the death penalty.

The state House passed the bill last week. Gov. Pat Quinn, a Democrat, has not said whether he will sign the legislation into law, but while campaigning last year, he said he supported "capital punishment when applied carefully and fairly," the Chicago Tribune reported.

Cook County State's Attorney Anita Alvarez said the death penalty is "a deterrent to violent crime in the most heinous of cases" that should be available, particularly "when we have witnessed outrageous crimes such as the senseless murder of five Chicago police officers this past year," the Tribune reported.

Former Gov. George Ryan imposed a moratorium on executions after a series of death row inmates were exonerated, and successors Rod Blagojevich and Quinn have maintained the moratorium.

Exactly eight years before Tuesday's vote, Ryan - a former proponent of capital punishment - commuted 167 death sentences to life without parole, according to the Illinois Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty.

Ryan called the legal system "deeply flawed," "arbitrary" and "haunted by the demon of error," according to the coalition.

Since Illinois reinstituted capital punishment in 1977, 20 defendants have been exonerated after being sentenced to die, according to the Chicago Sun-Times. Twelve inmates have been executed in that time, according to the News Tribune in north-central Illinois.

The state has not executed anyone since 1999, according to the Death Penalty Information Center.

Thirty-five states, plus federal courts and the military, have the death penalty, according to the center. New Mexico abolished the death penalty in 2009; New Jersey abolished it in 2007. A court ruling abolished it in New York in 2004.

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Filed under: Crime • Death Penalty • Illinois • Justice • U.S.
soundoff (22 Responses)
  1. Jojo

    yea! illinois! go them.


    January 15, 2011 at 5:10 pm | Report abuse |
  2. wilson

    Illinois became the 16th state to abolish the death penalty, and the third state to do it in four years.…th-penalty-ban

    March 9, 2011 at 3:00 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Tare

    I have the simple solution to this issue. Let those criminals found guilty of the most horrific crimes fight among themselves for limited resources (food,water). This is survival of the fittest, the law of Mother Nature herself. Thus it is not cruel or unusual, saves taxpayers money and will lead to "closure" for families of the victims.

    March 9, 2011 at 3:37 pm | Report abuse |
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