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Tuesday, March 8, 2011

DEATH PENALTY: Gov. Pat Quinn expected to sign death penalty ban Wednesday

--Since his election Gov. Quinn has done nothing but take steps to systematically ruin the State of Illinois. 
After signing this bill I hope that every time he closes his eyes he sees the faces of the innocent people that will be killed by people who will now have nothing to fear from the law.--
Duke

STORY AT Chicago Tribune

Posted by Ray Long at 7:16 p.m.

SPRINGFIELD --- Gov. Pat Quinn is expected to sign legislation abolishing the death penalty in Illinois on Wednesday, according to the House sponsor and sources familiar with the governor’s plans.
The governor today quietly invited death penalty opponents to a private bill signing ceremony at his Capitol office scheduled for late Wednesday morning.

Sponsoring Rep. Karen Yarbrough, D-Maywood, told the Tribune today that the administration invited her to be with the governor on Wednesday for a “private signing” in the governor’s office for the “abolition” of the death penalty. She said an aide to Quinn told her the governor would sign the legislation and then make the announcement public.

Quinn has until March 18 to act on the legislation. He was considering action late last week but decided to continue listening to both sides of the issue. On Monday, Quinn told reporters he planned to deal with the death penalty measure this week.

If the governor signs the ban into law, he’ll end a capital punishment system beset by flaws and brought down by evidence that freed wrongfully convicted men who spent years on Death Row.

The ban would come about 11 years after then-Gov. George Ryan declared a moratorium on executions after 13 condemned inmates had been cleared since Illinois reinstated capital punishment in 1977. Ryan, a Republican, cited a Tribune investigative series that examined each of the state's nearly 300 capital cases and exposed how bias, error and incompetence undermined many of them.

Since then, Illinois approved reforms to the capital punishment system, including taping interrogations under a proposal forged by President Barack Obama when he served in the Illinois Senate. Only two days before Ryan left office in January 2003, Ryan commuted the death sentences of 164 prisoners to life in prison. Quinn and his predecessor, Rod Blagojevich, kept the moratorium in place.

In 1972, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down death penalty statues in 40 states, including Illinois. Five years later, Illinois reinstated capital punishment, and it has been among the current 35 states that currently allow executions.

With Quinn's signature, Illinois would join New York, New Jersey and New Mexico, all of which have done away with the death penalty in the last three years.

“(Quinn) signing this bill puts Illinois on the right side of history,” Yarbrough said. “There are 20 exonerees out here, and that suggests to me that we don’t do this very well. We don’t do a good job of selecting the right people to kill.”

Once signed, the death penalty ban would take effect July 1.

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