Today, March 9th, 2011, at 11:30 am, after almost two months of listening and reflection, Governor Pat Quinn of Illinois signed SB 3539 into law, repealing the death penalty. Illinois’ signing of its death penalty repeal bill into law is indicative of the momentum building nationally to end the death penalty.
“For me, this was a difficult decision, quite literally the choice between life and death,” Quinn wrote in his signing statement. “This was not a decision to be made lightly, or a decision that I came to without deep personal reflection.”
“Since our experience has shown that there is no way to design a perfect death penalty system, free from the numerous flaws that can lead to wrongful convictions or discriminatory treatment, I have concluded that the proper course of action is to abolish it,” Quinn wrote. “With our broken system, we cannot ensure justice is achieved in every case.”
Illinois joins the ranks of New Jersey, New Mexico, and New York becoming the 16th state without the death penalty and the fourth to abolish it in the last four years.
The bill also includes a trust fund that will be created to assist the family members of murder victims from the savings of ending the death penalty. The repeal bill takes effect on July 1.
Governor Quinn also commuted the sentences of 15 death row inmates to life in prison.
Across the United States:
More than 11 states in 2009 considered repeal measures due to the high costs of the death penalty to taxpayers, compared to alternative punishments, during the nation’s uncertain economic times.
The momentum continues in 2011. Kansas’ Senate recently introduced a repeal measure. Montana’s Senate passed a repeal bill on a bipartisan vote. Connecticut and Maryland also have repeal measures pending. More states are expected to follow suit.
The momentum is reflected in 2010 figures for executions and new death sentences. Executions dropped 12% compared to 2009, and by more than 50% since 1999. The number of new death sentences in 2010 was the lowest in 34 years.
Take a moment to thank the Governor.
Please call Governor Quinn and thank him for his thoughtful attention and courageous decision in favor of repeal! He made history in Illinois today, and we need to let him know we’re proud!
Springfield Office: 217-782-0244
Chicago Office: 312-814-2121