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.
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'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.