Illinois joined fifteen other states and the District of Columbia after the state Senate voted to abolish the death penalty on Tuesday.

The state of Illinois has not executed anyone for more than a decade due to a moratorium set by former Republican Governor, George Ryan, who found that many innocent people were wrongly convicted and sentenced to death.

“We’ve had 20 innocent people on Death Row,” said Jeremy Schroeder, executive director of the Illinois Coalition Against the Death Penalty. “It’s time to be done with the moratorium and do the right thing.”

The bill, passed by the Illinois House and Senate, is headed to newly elected Democratic Governor Patt Quinn’s desk for a signature. Although Quinn says he supports the death penalty for the “worst crimes,” he supports continuing the moratorium and is expected to sign the ban on the death penalty into law.

State Senator Kwame Raoul, who said that innocent people should not be at risk of such a harsh punishment, sponsored the legislation.

“We have an historic opportunity … to join the civilized world and end this practice of risking putting to death innocent people,” Raoul said.

With disproportionate numbers of poor people and minorities being sentenced to death, many civil rights activists see this as a big step forward in the fight to end the death penalty for good.

Should more states ban the death penalty? Sound off!

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  • I am so torn about the death penalty. For the most part, I do think it should be abolished. How we ever figured death didn’t fall under “cruel and unusual” I will never understand. We know the death penalty ends up costing tax payers more due to the appeals process than housing and caring for an inmate for life. And then there is the fact that DNA testing has released lots of innocent folks from prison recently, most of whom were poor people of color. But still, it’s difficult to think of a monster like Ted Bundy, still alive and enjoying television and computer time in prison, perhaps having an email girlfriend, maybe even getting married, after the crimes that he committed. Those few times when it is so obvious the person is guilty and they really do deserve the ultimate punishment, it would be nice to still have the option on the table.

    • It may cost tax payers for the death penalty but doesnt it cost them way more EVERYDAY to keep these criminals in a rent free,free food,free utility paradise?

      i think the costs are about $30,000 for EACH inmate everyday. i’m not saying to just kill off everybody but i’m just bringing this point up.

      hell i think we should use the tax payer money to keep child molesters and sex offenders off the streets. THEY should be in jail but no, instead they get on a registered sex offender list and are being protected by the government. are child molesters allowed to get married and have kids??

  • It is a hard topic to sit down & discuss. There are times I am against it but I am not sure how I would feel if someone hurt or harmed one of my family members in a horrible way how will I feel then? It is a sad topic.

  • zy

    here’s a novel idea…stop sending innocent people to death row on minute/non-existent/wrong evidence…maybe then, we could actually put real murderers and those who committ heinous acts of violence to death. if the system were changed so that it wasn’t so completely racist and classist… we’d have less innocents on death row period.