After more than a decade in limbo, the death penalty has been abolished in Illinois.
Gov. Pat Quinn signed the legislation today, citing that since 1977 20 individuals sentenced to die have been exonerated. Seven of those instances have occurred since 2000, the year former Gov. George Ryan imposed a moratorium on executions.
"As a state, we cannot tolerate the executions of innocent people because such actions strike at the very legitimacy of a government," Quinn said in a statement.
Quinn said the number of innocent people sentenced to die led him to his decision.
"To say that this is unacceptable does not even begin to express the profound regret and shame we, as a society, must bear for these failures of justice," Quinn said.
Quinn said he did not believe there was a way to design a "perfect death penalty system," adding that flaws can lead to wrongful convictions.
"I have also decided the commute the sentences of those currently on death row to natural life imprisonment, without the possibility of parole or release," Quinn stated.
Barrington Area State Rep. Tom Morrison, R-54th District, said he disagreed with Quinn's decision and beleives Illinois residents will push for reinstatement of the death penalty.
"There is no question that legislation determining the life or death of a human being comes with great difficulty and consequence," Morrison said. "Many cases have been brought forth in support of the repeal, but we can not forget about the families of victims of brutal murder and the justice they deserve."
Morrison said when people confess to horrible crimes and there is corroborating evidence such as DNA they should qualify for the death penalty.
"An injustice has taken place today in Illinois for victims' families and law enforcement," Morrison said. "I strongly disagree with the governor's decision."