Illinois Senate Votes To Abolish Death Penalty

Springfield, IL-(ENEWSPF)- From the Chicago Sun-Times:

In a landmark vote, the Illinois Senate narrowly opted to abolish the state’s death penalty Tuesday after two hours of rancorous debate that pitted the rights of crime victims against a criminal justice system that some said was irreparably broken.

The Senate’s 32-25 vote sends the legislation to Gov. Quinn, who advocated keeping the moratorium on executions first imposed by former Gov. George Ryan but so far has been silent about the abolition legislation.

"We have a historic opportunity today," said Sen. Kwame Raoul (D-Chicago), the bill’s chief Senate sponsor. "We have an opportunity to part company as a state with countries that are the worst human-rights violators and join the civilized world and end this practice of risking putting to death innocent people."

Twenty men sentenced to death and imprisoned for crimes they did not commit have been exonerated since Illinois re-imposed the death penalty in 1977. Illinois would be the third state in the last four years to end executions if Quinn signs the measure.

If signed by Governor Quinn, the new law would become effective July 1, 2011, Senate Democrats report.