Ten years after former Gov. George Ryan placed a moratorium on the
practice of capital punishment, Illinois lawmakers have voted to abolish
the death penalty in the Land of Lincoln.
The State Senate followed the lead of the House and approved the bill
(SB 3539) by a 32-25 margin this afternoon. The legislation, if signed, would
end the practice and redirect money the state pays in death row
prosecution and defense fees ($100 million in the past seven years
alone) to support law enforcement training and programs for the
families of murder victims. It now heads to Gov. Pat Quinn, where it
faces an uncertain future.
Since 1977, 13 Illinois men since have been exonerated for murders
they did no commit; several investigations found that dubious evidence,
racial discrimination, and prosecutorial misconduct tainted many of
those cases. The use of the death penalty is declining nationwide.
Fifteen other states do not sentence criminals to death.
UPDATE (3:19 p.m.): Here's a statement from the Illinois Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty:
“Lawmakers clearly understood the death penalty is broken beyond repair in Illinois and must end now. They should be applauded for realizing that this system is wrong and can’t be fixed – now and going forward. Now we call on Gov. Pat Quinn to embrace this measure and agree that Illinois is much better off without the death penalty,” said Jeremy Schroeder, executive director of the Illinois Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty.