Illinois Shuts Down Death Row State no longer executes criminals By Newser Editors and Wire Services Posted Jul 2, 2011 4:58 PM CDT 10 comments Comments This 2003 file photo shows an unidentified death row inmate in his cell in the North Condemned Unit at Pontiac Correctional Institution in Pontiac, Ill. (Seth Perlman) (Newser) – After spending years at the center of national debate over capital punishment, Illinois' death row officially died yesterday when a state law abolishing the death penalty quietly took effect. The fate of executions in the state was sealed in March when Gov. Pat Quinn signed legislation ending the death penalty, following years of stories of men sentenced to death for crimes they did not commit. Quinn subsequently commuted the sentences of the 15 men on death row to life in prison without the possibility of parole. Fourteen are now in maximum security prisons, while one is in a medium-high security prison with a mental health facility. Illinois has executed 12 men since 1977, when the death penalty was reinstated, but none since 1999.