Illinois Governor Pat Quinn today signed a bill that abolishes the death penalty, making Illinois the third state since 2007 to outlaw capital punishment.
The Illinois Legislature passed the abolition bill in January.
In 2000, after thirteen people on death row in Illinois were exonerated, then-Governor George Ryan imposed a moratorium on executions. Support for abolishing capital punishment in Illinois has grown in the decade since Ryan declared the moratorium.
Illinois now joins New Jersey and New Mexico among the most recent states to abolish the death penalty. Nationwide, states have dramatically slowed their rates of death sentencing and executions in recent years as evidence about unreliable imposition of the death penalty has grown. The death penalty statutes in New York and Kansas were struck down as unconstitutional in 2004 and have not been reinstated.
Stating he believed the bill should “abolish the death penalty for everyone,” including those already on death row, the governor also commuted the death sentences of 15 people currently on the state’s death row to life imprisonment without parole.