Death penalty repeal headed to Quinn

January 12, 2011 10:00:44 AM PST
A bill to repeal the death penalty in Illinois is now headed to Governor Pat Quinn.

The Senate voted to ban capital punishment, putting the state in spotlight of an on-going national debate.

The Illinois House and the Senate both repealed the death penalty. Now it goes to Governor Quinn. He has not yet said if he will sign it or veto it, only that he will review it closely

. But at least one expert on the issue expects Quinn will support it

"We are in a fiscal crisis, so we can't afford it," said Andrea Lyon, DePaul University, attorney at law.

Lyon, a death penalty opponent and associate dean at DePaul University College of Law, believes it's in Governor Quinn's best interest to sign legislation making the death penalty illegal.

The Illinois House passed the bill to abolish it last week.

Tuesday, the Senate voted 32-to-25 to stop the possibility of executions.

Since 1987 the state has removed 20 people from death row who were wrongly convicted.

"We have spent millions and millions of dollars on this failed experiment. We keep getting the wrong guy, we executed 12 and exonerated 19," Lyon said. "I mean, that's pretty bad."

"The death penalty is a very powerful tool to utilize for leverage," said Thomas Glasgow, former prosecutor. "Some of the state's attorneys have charged the death penalty in simply a way to get people to bargain down to another plea."

Quinn has shown support for capital punishment but has also been in favor of the moratorium on the death penalty which was enacted under former Governor George Ryan.

Still, many people ABC7 talked to believe that punishment by death is needed to keep order in society.

"Justice should be all around," said Shahmir Jiwani.

"It keeps fear," said Blake Smith.

"I don't know exactly what the remedy for all of that would be...but I hope lawmakers make the right decision in how they vote," said Tom Gray.

Governor Quinn held a news conference Wednesday morning about the tax increase, but was sure to be asked about the death penalty issue

We may find out more today on his decision. He should at least be getting the bill in his hands today.

The bill is SB3539.