On March 9, 2011, Illinois Governor Pat Quinn signed Senate Bill 3539 into law, which abolished the death penalty in Illinois. The bill passed the Illinois House in January 2011 by a vote of 60-54. The Senate also approved the bill in January. The bill did not go into effect until July 1, 2011 but Quinn commuted 15 death row inmates' sentences to life without parole. In 2000, then-governor George Ryan halted all executions in Illinois, citing inherent issues with the system. Legislators had been trying to ban the death penalty since. As of March 2012, 16 states and the District of Columbia have outlawed the death penalty. Most recently, New Mexico banned the death penalty in 2009. New Jersey passed similar legislation in 2007.
Learn more about Illinois and the death penalty from the JURIST news archive and read commentary on the issue from JURIST Guest Columnist Courtney Minick in Hotline.