state of civil and political rights:
year of last executions: 0-0-0
death sentences: 0
international treaties on human rights and the death penalty:
On March 9, 2011, Gov. Pat Quinn abolished the death penalty, more than a decade after the state imposed a moratorium on executions out of concern that innocent people could be put to death by a justice system that had wrongly condemned 13 men. Quinn also commuted the sentences of all 15 inmates remaining on Illinois' death row. They will now serve life in prison. State lawmakers voted in January (see Jan. 6 and 11) to abandon capital punishment and the new law will take effect on July 1st.
Quinn, whose election campaign promised to end the moratorium and veto the abolitionist law, spent two months reflecting on the issue, speaking with prosecutors, victims' families, death penalty opponents and religious leaders. He called it the "most difficult decision" he has made as governor. "I think if you abolish the death penalty in Illinois, we should abolish it for everyone," the governor said. Illinois' moratorium goes back to 2000, when, on January 31, then-Republican Gov. George Ryan declared a moratorium on executions, pending an investigation into the state's capital punishment system. Ryan appointed a 14-member study commission, including former US Sen. Paul Simon, Scott Turow, former US District Judge Frank H. McGarr, former US Attorney Thomas Sullivan, to study the state's capital punishment system in conjunction with the moratorium.
The state has executed 12 inmates in the same time that 13 other inmates were freed because they were later found to be innocent. Governor Ryan's moratorium received praise from President Clinton, who urged other state governors to examine their death penalty systems.
The Commission ended its work in April 2002 by compiling a report containing 85 indispensable proposals for reform.
The Commission unanimously agreed that the state of Illinois had excessively resorted to the death penalty and that in order to continue its application it would have to increase defence funds and introduce the recommended 85 proposals.
Governor Ryan put to the Senate the 85 proposals made by the Commission but failed to attain approval.
On 10 January 2003, as the last act of his mandate, Governor Ryan commuted 167 death penalties into life imprisonment and exonerated four convicts of whose innocence he was personally convinced, effectively clearing death row in the state.
On 24 April 2003, his successor, the Democrat Rod Blagojevich, decided to continue observing the moratorium stating that the conditions weren't present to guarantee a judicial system without errors.