Illinois Abolishes Death Penalty

In a victory for justice that has been 20 years in the making, Illinois Governor Pat Quinn signed into law SB 3539, a bill that adds Illinois to the ranks of 15 other states that have abolished the death penalty. Quinn's predecessor, Governor George Ryan, placed all executions on hold after a series of high-profile cases in which death-row inmates were found to be innocent or the victims of police wrongdoing. Explaining his decision to commute the sentences of 15 death-row prisoners to life in prison without any chance of release, Quinn told the Chicago Sun Times that "once the decision was made to sign the law abolishing the death penalty, it should be abolished for all." The Illinois Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty has set up an online form here to allow you to send a message of thanks to Governor Quinn and the bill's sponsors.

 

Before his decision, Quinn spoke with religious leaders, advocates for and against abolition and victims' families. Of his conversations with victims' families he said, "There are no words in the English language or any language to relieve your pain, and I understand that....I do believe the death penalty should be abolished in our state because of mistakes that were made..."  The mistakes of which he speaks involve 20 inmates that were sentenced to death whom were later exonerated for the crimes of which they were accused.  “We cannot have a death penalty in our state that kills innocent people...it just is not right.” Quinn stated.  It is hoped that this level of dedication and eventual success can serve as a model for other Midwest states who are hoping to abolish the death penalty. 

 

For more information and news about the efforts in Illinois to repeal the death penalty, check out website for the Illinois Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty