Illinois Governor Applauded for Abolishing Death Penalty

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Illinois no longer has a death penalty.

It has joined the ranks of the other 15 states in the nation which have abolished executions of convicted people.

The General Assembly passed SB-3539 to repeal the death penalty on January 11, 2011.

Governor Pat Quinn did not immediately announce that he would sign the bill, but he said he would end executions in Illinois after receiving roughly 12,000 phones calls from activists, members of organizations that opposed the death penalty, and various world leaders such as Cardinal Francis George and Archbishop Desmond Tutu.

Illinois Governor Pat Quinn siging into law the bill stopping the death penalty, on March 9, 2011. Photo courtesy of the Governor's office

Many of these figures have been involved in the long battle to repeal the death penalty, which received a major boost in 2000 when former Gov. George Ryan installed a moratorium on executions in the state.
Quinn signed the bill into law ending the death penalty on the morning of March 9 and commuted the sentences of the 15 men currently on death row, according to the Illinois Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty.
Jane Ramsey, executive director of the Jewish Council on Urban Affairs, told Residents’ Journal the day after Quinn signed the bill into law that she and others were “thrilled” to hear that Quinn “finally” acted.
“It’s a great victory for all the advocates who have worked so hard to achieve the abolitions in Illinois,” she said. “I am delighted, and we now must support the same actions happening across the country.”

Statement from Governor Pat Quinn
In an excerpt from his written statement on why he decided to sign abolishing the death penalty into law. Quinn stated:

“For me, this was a difficult decision, quite literally the choice between life and death. This was not a decision to be made lightly, or a decision that I came to without deep personal reflection.
“As Governor, I took an oath to uphold our state’s Constitution and faithfully execute our laws. Honoring that oath often requires making difficult decisions, but I have found none to be as difficult as the one I made today. I recognize that some may strongly disagree with this decision, but I firmly believe that we are taking an important step forward in our history as Illinois joins the 15 other states and many nations of the world that have abolished the death penalty.”

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