Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn signed a bill Wednesday abolishing the death penalty, making Illinois the 16th state in recent years to take such action for reasons ranging from erroneous convictions to the high cost of defending capital cases.
"We cannot escape history," said the governor, a Democrat. "We have abolished the death penalty in Illinois, the land of Lincoln. This is the most difficult decision I have made as governor."
He said he made this decision on the bill, which will take effect Wednesday.
Illinois' action follows similar moves by New Mexico in 2009 and New Jersey's repeal in 2007 [and New York's decision not to re-write its capital punishment statutes following reversal in 2004].
Legislation to abolish the death penalty is now pending in a handful of states, including Connecticut, Maryland and Montana.
Interestingly, no legislation is pending in non-death penalty states to instate capital punishment.
Paging Trop, Trop v. Dulles (1958), please report to the Supreme Court.