January 7, 2011 / 4:20 AM / 9 years ago

Illinois House passes death penalty ban, Senate next

CHICAGO (Reuters) - The Illinois House on Thursday voted to ban the death penalty, moving the measure on to the Senate a decade after a moratorium on executions was put into place by former Governor George Ryan.

Thursday night’s vote came after a first vote failed, according to Illinois State Representative Elaine Nekritz, a Democrat who voted in favor of the ban. The final vote was 60-54 in favor of the ban.

“I believe the history of the death penalty in Illinois demonstrates that we are not in a position to get it right 100 percent of the time,” said Nekritz, explaining her vote.

Ryan ordered the moratorium in January 2000 following a series of revelations that more than a dozen people had been sent to Death Row who were later found to be innocent.

In 2003, Ryan commuted the remaining 167 death sentences for those in the state and emptied death row.

If the bill is approved in the state senate it still must go to Governor Pat Quinn, who has said he continues to favor the death penalty for the worst crimes, according to local media reports.

Opponents of lifting the ban include the Illinois State’s Attorneys Association, which has said the death penalty is useful for law enforcement and to achieve justice.

Reporeting by Mary Wisniewski. Editing by Peter Bohan

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