CHICAGO — Gov. Pat Quinn intends to abolish the death penalty in Illinois, two sponsors of the legislation said Tuesday.
State Rep. Karen Yarbrough and state Sen. Kwame Raoul told The Associated Press that Quinn’s staff invited them to a signing ceremony Wednesday morning in the governor’s Springfield office.
“It’s going to happen,” Raoul said.
Quinn’s office declined to comment Tuesday about his intentions. He has said he personally supports the death penalty when properly implemented and would make a decision on the bill based on his conscience.
The Chicago Democrat would thrust the state back into the national debate over capital punishment by signing the legislation, which would add Illinois to the list of 15 other states and the District of Columbia without the death penalty. The new law would take effect July 1.
“I’ve heard from many, many people of good faith and good conscience on both sides of the issue. And I’ve tried to be very meticulous and writing down notes and studying those notes and books and e-mails. They’ve really spoken from the heart. I’ve been very proud of the people of Illinois,” Quinn said recently.
Illinois’ last execution was in 1999, a year before then-Republican Gov. George Ryan imposed a moratorium on capital punishment after the death sentences of 13 men were overturned.
Ryan cleared death row before leaving office in 2003 by commuting the death sentences of 167 inmates to life in prison.
If Quinn were to sign the bill, it unclear what he’d do about the 15 inmates currently on Illinois’ death row.