Illinois House passes repeal of death penalty

January 6, 2011

AP Wires

(Getty Images)

Updated At: 6:45pm on 01/06/2011

In a whirlwind reversal, the Illinois House voted to repeal the state's death penalty hours after an initial attempt failed.

The repeal measure came up one vote short during a 59-58 tally earlier Thursday. But a second vote yielded the required 60 votes.
The measure passed 60-54.

The state Senate has yet to vote on the measure.

Supporters said it was time to end a sad history in Illinois in which 20 people condemned to death have been freed after exoneration or new evidence surfaced which cast doubt on their convictions.

Three Illinois governors have observed a moratorium on capital punishment for a decade. But critics of abolition said the ultimate
punishment has been fixed, remains a deterrent and should remain an option for families seeking justice.

Tazewell County State's Attorney Stewart Umholtz and Peoria County State's Attorney Kevin Lyons had said the effort to eliminate the death penalty was a politically motivated effort to circumvent the will of the people.

No one has been executed in Illinois since 1999. Former Gov. George Ryan suspended executions in 2000 because 13 condemned men were later exonerated or evidence against them was ruled improper.