• Press Release

Amnesty International praises Gov. Quinn for signing Illinois death penalty abolition bill

March 27, 2011

Amnesty International Press Release
For Immediate Release:
Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Move Demonstrates ‘Great Human Rights Leadership’ and Recognizes
‘the Wisdom of Abolishing an Antiquated, Ineffective and Inhumane Punishment’

Contact:  Wende Gozan Brown at 212-633-4247, [email protected], or Debra Erenberg at 312-435-6391 or 312-451-5549 (cell), [email protected].

(Chicago) – Amnesty International USA (AIUSA) today applauded Governor Pat Quinn for signing into law SB3539, which repeals the death penalty in Illinois. 

“This is a landmark day for Illinois and the United States,” said Larry Cox, executive director for AIUSA.  “No state has tried harder to fix its death penalty system, but after 10 years it became patently clear that it was broken beyond repair. And what was true in Illinois is equally true in the remaining death penalty states, including Connecticut, Maryland and Montana, where the repeal of capital punishment is under consideration.  Governor Quinn has shown great human rights leadership by recognizing the wisdom of abolishing an antiquated, ineffective and inhumane punishment.”

The human rights organization’s Illinois members called, wrote and visited their legislators in their home districts and in Springfield in support of the bill. Illinois is the 16th state without the death penalty, and the third state to abolish it legislatively in the last four years, along with New Jersey and New Mexico. 

“Illinois did the right thing, indeed the only logical thing,” said Debra Erenberg, Midwest regional director for AIUSA.  “The 20 innocent men who were freed from Illinois’ death row are just the ones that, due to diligent legal work, effective investigative journalism, or just plain luck, we happen to know about.  The number of wrongful convictions, which came to outnumber executions, made it abundantly clear that something was terribly wrong with Illinois’ death penalty.  Moving from moratorium to abolition allows resources to be redirected toward proven crime prevention measures – and holds Illinois up as a beacon for human rights.”

Amnesty International said the development is part of a clear trend away from capital punishment in the United States and throughout the world. Two-thirds of countries no longer use the death penalty, and death sentences in the United States have plunged in the last decade to historic lows – largely due to the public’s increased awareness about glaring flaws inherent to capital punishment. One hundred and thirty-eight people have been exonerated from U.S. death rows.  “By passing the repeal bill, Illinois is adding to the sense of momentum that the death penalty is on its way out.  Illinois is showing lawmakers in other states that it is possible to vote for repeal, and their states will be the better for it,” said Erenberg.

Amnesty International is a Nobel Peace Prize-winning grassroots activist organization with more than 3 million supporters, activists and volunteers in more than 150 countries campaigning for human rights worldwide. The organization investigates and exposes abuses, educates and mobilizes the public, and works to protect people wherever justice, freedom, truth and dignity are denied.
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