Illinois Has Abolished the Death Penalty!

Illinois Governor Pat Quinn (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

Today, with the signature of Governor Pat Quinn, Illinois became the 16th state to abolish the death penalty, and the third state to do it in four years.  The Governor also commuted the sentences of the 15 men currently residing on Illinois’ death row.  In addition to Governor Quinn, State Senator Kwame Raoul and State Representative Karen Yarbrough were key players in making death penalty abolition a reality in Illinois.  Please take a moment to thank them for their leadership.

No state has made a greater effort to “fix” their broken death penalty than Illinois.  A ten year moratorium on executions was established in January 2000, and since then various commissions and studies have attempted to grapple with the challenge of imposing an irreversible punishment in an error-prone system.  After over a decade of trying, Illinois politicians came to the conclusion that it simply cannot be done – that capital punishment in Illinois is beyond repair.  The system will always be prone to error, and the punishment of death will always be irreversible.

So they did the right thing, and indeed the only logical thing.  They abolished the death penalty.  Folks in other states where the flaws and shortcomings of capital punishment have become painfully clear should look to this example.  What was true in Illinois is equally true in Connecticut, Maryland, Montana, or for that matter any other state that still keeps the death penalty on its books.   The danger of executing the innocent can never be eliminated, the drain on the treasury will always divert resources from proven crime prevention measures, and the toll on the families of victims as they are dragged through a grueling process will always be both severe and completely unnecessary.

The Illinois experience has shown that, for both practical and moral reasons, the death penalty does not work.  It is an irreversible punishment in an imperfect world, and a cruel and degrading punishment in a world where we should be striving to respect and promote human dignity.   By rejecting the death penalty, Illinois has liberated itself from this failed experiment, and has scored a major victory for human rights.

AIUSA welcomes a lively and courteous discussion that follow our Community Guidelines. Comments are not pre-screened before they post but AIUSA reserves the right to remove any comments violating our guidelines.

42 thoughts on “Illinois Has Abolished the Death Penalty!

  1. This is so sweet! Illinois has joined the 15 states in abolishing the death penalty! A great victory indeed! :D

  2. A great and proud day to be a Chicagoan and Illinoisan! Thank you Govenor Quinn!

  3. Thank you so much. Mr. Quinn.
    This was one of the main important things you are able to do for human rights.

    Please be quiet, when you are alone and hear all my thankfull tears.

    This is the right way.

    Marion Ihlas, Germany

  4. Thank you Pat Quinn. You have brought dignity to our state and in a time of visible hate you have injected reason.

  5. Born and raised in Chicago, althought I left many years ago, I am proud of my "home state", today. Congratulations to Amnesty USA for your efforts in this campaign.

    God be praised.

  6. This is so sweet! Illinois has joined the 15 states in abolishing the death penalty! A great victory indeed! :D

  7. I see Illinois abolished the death penalty. But I also recall Richard Speck (murdered 8 student nurses) and John Wayne Gacy (murdered about 3 dozen teenage boys and young men)*. It is difficult to reconcile these facts.

    *dealing with mental distress of survivors, Gacy recommended they take 36 capsules of Valium

    A. D.

  8. Well, I have sad news that Ohio's Governor John Kasich denied Johnnie Baston clemency last week despite pleas for both families of Bastion and his victim Chong-Hoon Mah to spare Baston's life. The state of Ohio will soon kill Baston by pentobarbital tomorrow in spite of his claims of innocence and child abuse, and my heart is breaking for both families who will undergo more grief and pain in losing another loved one to state-sponsored murder. I hope God will give both families comfort in times of pain, and I truly hope he will give Baston comfort and forgiveness in the hour of death and lead him to eternal life. :cry:
    http://www.salon.com/wires/allwires/2011/03/09/D9

  9. A great and proud day to be a Chicagoan and Illinoisan! Thank you Govenor Quinn!

  10. Well, I have sad news that Ohio's Governor John Kasich denied Johnnie Baston clemency last week despite pleas for both families of Bastion and his victim Chong-Hoon Mah to spare Baston's life. The state of Ohio will soon kill Baston by pentobarbital tomorrow in spite of his claims of innocence and child abuse, and my heart is breaking for both families who will undergo more grief and pain in losing another loved one to state-sponsored murder. I hope God will give both families comfort in times of pain, and I truly hope he will give Baston comfort and forgiveness in the hour of death and lead him to eternal life. :cry:
    http://www.salon.com/wires/allwires/2011/03/09/D9

  11. Well, I have sad news that Ohio's Governor John Kasich denied Johnnie Baston clemency last week despite pleas for both families of Bastion and his victim Chong-Hoon Mah to spare Baston's life. The state of Ohio will soon kill Baston by pentobarbital tomorrow in spite of his claims of innocence and child abuse, and my heart is breaking for both families who will undergo more grief and pain in losing another loved one to state-sponsored murder. I hope God will give both families comfort in times of pain, and I truly hope he will give Baston comfort and forgiveness in the hour of death and lead him to eternal life. :cry:
    http://www.salon.com/wires/allwires/2011/03/09/D9

  12. hhhmmmm…….Human rights? What rights do the murder victims have? What rights do the families of those victims have? So……now we keep overpopulating the system on the tax payers tab. what rights do tax payers have? We indirectly pay for that whether we choose to or not. Just my .02

  13. Thank you so much. Mr. Quinn.
    This was one of the main important things you are able to do for human rights.

    Please be quiet, when you are alone and hear all my thankfull tears.

    This is the right way.

    Marion Ihlas, Germany

  14. Thank you Pat Quinn. You have brought dignity to our state and in a time of visible hate you have injected reason.

  15. I can only say: great news!
    Death Penalty is a cruel tool a civilized state doesn't need!
    Congratulations for this triumph!

  16. Born and raised in Chicago, althought I left many years ago, I am proud of my “home state”, today. Congratulations to Amnesty USA for your efforts in this campaign.

    God be praised.

  17. Thanks for abolishing the death penalty. Let's hope other states follow suit. The death penalty is not so much about particualr offenses as about our society and how we treat offenders, Barbara E. Joe, Washington, DC

  18. I see Illinois abolished the death penalty. But I also recall Richard Speck (murdered 8 student nurses) and John Wayne Gacy (murdered about 3 dozen teenage boys and young men)*. It is difficult to reconcile these facts.

    *dealing with mental distress of survivors, Gacy recommended they take 36 capsules of Valium

    A. D.

  19. Well, I have sad news that Ohio’s Governor John Kasich denied Johnnie Baston clemency last week despite pleas for both families of Bastion and his victim Chong-Hoon Mah to spare Baston’s life. The state of Ohio will soon kill Baston by pentobarbital tomorrow in spite of his claims of innocence and child abuse, and my heart is breaking for both families who will undergo more grief and pain in losing another loved one to state-sponsored murder. I hope God will give both families comfort in times of pain, and I truly hope he will give Baston comfort and forgiveness in the hour of death and lead him to eternal life. :cry:

    http://www.salon.com/wires/allwires/2011/03/09/D9LS09AO0_us_death_penalty_ohio/

  20. hhhmmmm…….Human rights? What rights do the murder victims have? What rights do the families of those victims have? So……now we keep overpopulating the system on the tax payers tab. what rights do tax payers have? We indirectly pay for that whether we choose to or not. Just my .02

  21. I can only say: great news!
    Death Penalty is a cruel tool a civilized state doesn’t need!
    Congratulations for this triumph!

  22. Thanks for abolishing the death penalty. Let’s hope other states follow suit. The death penalty is not so much about particualr offenses as about our society and how we treat offenders, Barbara E. Joe, Washington, DC

  23. A good day. Now the world is waiting, that the US will close
    Guantanamo, it´s a shame and everybody knows that.

  24. Wonderful news – the death penalty doesn't belong in the 21st century.

    For those worried about the victims of these criminals (and let's not forget that is what they are in most cases), just remember that the death penalty will never undo a crime, and it is not a "human right" to have a murderer murdered. Nor is revenge a basis for a moral or effective system of justice.

  25. I'm happy to hear the good news. Although, I do not live in the States, I believe abolishing the death penalty is long over due in an advance country like US. I expect other states to follow.

  26. A good day. Now the world is waiting, that the US will close
    Guantanamo, it´s a shame and everybody knows that.

  27. Wonderful news – the death penalty doesn’t belong in the 21st century.

    For those worried about the victims of these criminals (and let’s not forget that is what they are in most cases), just remember that the death penalty will never undo a crime, and it is not a “human right” to have a murderer murdered. Nor is revenge a basis for a moral or effective system of justice.

  28. I’m happy to hear the good news. Although, I do not live in the States, I believe abolishing the death penalty is long over due in an advance country like US. I expect other states to follow.

  29. I still can't believe that Ohio has killed Johnnie Baston for the murder of Chong-Hoon Mah, which is an execution no one wanted but was carried out anyway! And I STILL can't believe that the Ohio Board of Pardons and Paroles and its governor ignored the pleas of both families for clemency, as Ohio has TOTALLY ignored the evidence of his professed innocence and child abuse! I hope that Ohio will one day have to answer to a higher authority, that is, God. May Johnnie Baston and Chong-Hoon Mah rest in the peace that had long been denied for them on earth. :cry:

  30. I still can’t believe that Ohio has killed Johnnie Baston for the murder of Chong-Hoon Mah, which is an execution no one wanted but was carried out anyway! And I STILL can’t believe that the Ohio Board of Pardons and Paroles and its governor ignored the pleas of both families for clemency, as Ohio has TOTALLY ignored the evidence of his professed innocence and child abuse! I hope that Ohio will one day have to answer to a higher authority, that is, God. May Johnnie Baston and Chong-Hoon Mah rest in the peace that had long been denied for them on earth. :cry:

  31. Congratulations to all those who have argued with such courage, for the abolition of this most vile of retributions. Keep up your excellent and enormously important work, and continue to demand rational and objective arguments from those who attempt to justify the death penalty.

    My most sincere thanks and respect go to Mr Quinn. This is an enormous step forwards for basic human rights in the United States.

    I hope that other states will follow suit, continuing the trend of the last few years. That the death penalty remains across most of a country claiming to be an example of democracy, freedom, human rights, and civilization itself, is gross hypocrisy which the rest of the world is not ignoring.

  32. Congratulations to all those who have argued with such courage, for the abolition of this most vile of retributions. Keep up your excellent and enormously important work, and continue to demand rational and objective arguments from those who attempt to justify the death penalty.

    My most sincere thanks and respect go to Mr Quinn. This is an enormous step forwards for basic human rights in the United States.

    I hope that other states will follow suit, continuing the trend of the last few years. That the death penalty remains across most of a country claiming to be an example of democracy, freedom, human rights, and civilization itself, is gross hypocrisy which the rest of the world is not ignoring.

  33. I am proud that my home state of Illinois has left the league of rogue countries like Iran, Saudi Arabia and the P.R. of China. The result of over 10 years of research leading to the conclusion that there is no absolute certainty in condemming another person to death should be be read carefully by the state of Texas and all the other states that still promote the most cruel and inhumane of all punishments.

  34. Welcome to civilization! Now get some sensible control over the use and ownership of firearms!

  35. I am proud that my home state of Illinois has left the league of rogue countries like Iran, Saudi Arabia and the P.R. of China. The result of over 10 years of research leading to the conclusion that there is no absolute certainty in condemming another person to death should be be read carefully by the state of Texas and all the other states that still promote the most cruel and inhumane of all punishments.

  36. Welcome to civilization! Now get some sensible control over the use and ownership of firearms!

  37. Congratulations to Amnesty USA for your efforts in this compaign.
    Now the world is waiting that the US will close GUANTANAMO, it's a shame
    and everybody knows that.
    Death penalty is a crual tool a civilized state doesn't need!!!!
    I can only say; wonderfool great news!

  38. Congratulations to Amnesty USA for your efforts in this compaign.
    Now the world is waiting that the US will close GUANTANAMO, it’s a shame
    and everybody knows that.
    Death penalty is a crual tool a civilized state doesn’t need!!!!
    I can only say; wonderfool great news!