Illinois to Ban Death Penalty

Gov. Quinn expected to sign repeal bill today
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 9, 2011 6:28 AM CST
A demonstrator holds an anti-death penalty sign as Sister Helen Prejean, author of 'Dead Man Walking,' speaks at a Chicago rally against the death penalty.   (Getty Images)

(Newser) – Capital punishment is facing its end in Illinois and a last-minute reprieve from the governor is highly unlikely. Pat Quinn is expected to sign legislation today abolishing the death penalty in the state, and abolition supporters have been invited to a private bill-signing ceremony, reports the Chicago Tribune. "They point-blank told me they were signing the bill" today, said the bill's sponsoring representative. The bill passed the state legislature in early January.

More death row inmates have been exonerated than executed since Illinois re-imposed the death penalty in 1977. Then-Gov. George Ryan imposed a moratorium on executions in 1999, citing a Tribune investigation that exposed massive flaws in the system. If Quinn signs the repeal bill as expected, it's not clear what will happen to the 15 inmates currently on death row in the state.

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