SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (CBS) — Gov. Pat Quinn wouldn’t say Wednesday whether he would sign legislation abolishing the death penalty in Illinois.
Quinn would only say that he’d examine the bill carefully, listen to input from Illinois residents and “follow my conscience.”
The Illinois Senate approved the measure 35-22 on Tuesday. The House approved it 60-54 last week.
“I think it’s a very important measure that deserves lots of study and that’s what I’m going to do,” Quinn said Wednesday. “In a bill of this magnitude, I think it’s important that anyone in Illinois who has an opinion, I’m happy to listen and reflect and I’ll follow my conscience.”
During his 2010 campaign, Quinn said he supported the death penalty, but would continue a moratorium on executions put in place in 2000 by then-Gov. George Ryan. Three years later, Ryan cleared out the state’s death row, commuting all those inmates’ sentences to life in prison, after more than a dozen death row inmates were found innocent.
Mayor Richard M. Daley said he doesn’t support abolishing the death penalty, but he stopped short of saying Quinn should veto the legislation.
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Daley, a former Cook County prosecutor, said lawmakers instead should have enacted more reforms to root out “imperfections” in the state’s capital punishment system, such as more use of DNA testing to make sure the wrong suspects are not arrested for murders.
“I believe in the death penalty. That doesn’t mean there’s not imperfections in it. That means you can perfect it. That’s why we need more DNA testing,” Daley said. “It should be a right to DNA test.”
Daley said he agreed with death penalty supporters who believe capital punishment is the proper sentence for the worst criminals.
“I have met parents, that their child has died, and this person has been out of prison. I mean, how do they live with that?” Daley said.
But Daley said it’s up to Quinn to decide whether to sign the legislation to abolish capital punishment or to veto it.