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Illinois abolishes death penalty, will other Midwest states follow?

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Illinois has executed 12 people since 1976, the year the US Supreme Court reinstated the death penalty. Missouri, by contrast, put 67 convicted criminals to death during that same time – the most in the Midwest. Since former Governor Ryan left office, Illinois's two subsequent governors have also refused to allow executions to resume.

Many critics of 'difficult decision'

State lawmakers voted in early January to abolish the death penalty. Governor Quinn spent the intervening months considering the issue before signing the bill Wednesday after "deep personal reflection," he said in a statement.

Illinois now replaces New Mexico as the state to abolish the death penalty most recently. The New Mexico legislature and then-Gov. Bill Richardson repealed the death penalty in 2009.

Illinois's move has plenty of critics. Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley said in early January that state lawmakers should have worked to correct the justice system’s “imperfections” and boosted funding for DNA testing.

“I have met parents, that their child has died, and this person has been out of prison. I mean, how do [the parents] live with that?” he said.

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