Death penalty abolition could soon land on Quinn's desk

Illinois Senate expected to vote in next couple days

January 10, 2011

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The Illinois Senate this week could send a bill to the Gov. Pat Quinn's desk to abolish the state's death penalty.

The Illinois Senate this week could send a bill to the Gov. Pat Quinn's desk to abolish the state's death penalty.

For the past 11 years, Illinois has had a death penalty moratorium: People can be sentenced to death, but they haven't been put to death. A bill abolishing it for good narrowly passed the state House last week, and awaits action by the Senate.

Senator Kirk Dillard has worked on death penalty reforms in the past, but as of Friday, the Hinsdale Republican was not on board with the bill.

"I clearly see problems with the death penalty. I've moved a great deal in the way I think about the issue," Dillard said. "But I'm not sure I'm quite there yet to abolishing the entire death penalty system."

Dillard said he would rather limit capital punishment to those convicted of mass-murders, and police or child killings. He also said he believes the issue should go before voters in a statewide referendum.

The sponsor of the death penalty abolishment, Democratic state Sen. Kwame Raoul of Chicago, claimed Friday that enough senators have told him they support the bill to get it passed. It would still need the governor's signature, though. A spokeswoman for Quinn said the governor would take a "careful look" at the legislation.