Obama Weighs In On Illinois Death Penalty Bill, Quinn Says He Will Act This Week
Governor Pat Quinn said Monday that he will take action on a bill that would abolish the death penalty in Illinois this week, though he has not said whether or not he supports the measure.
It's been nearly two months since the Illinois General Assembly voted to abolish the state's death penalty, and sent the legislation to Quinn's desk.
President Barack Obama reportedly weighed in on the measure last week.
During an encounter with Quinn at the White House last week, the president praised the governor on the legislation and on Illinois' legalization of civil unions, said state Sen. Kwame Raoul (D-Chicago), a lead legislative backer of the abolition bill and Obama's successor in the Illinois Senate.
"The governor said Barack had complimented him and the state on our work on civil unions and the death penalty," Raoul said Friday, recounting a conversation with Quinn following his return last week from a Washington, D.C. trip to attend National Governors Association meetings.
Quinn, who has until March 18 to sign the bill, said there's still information he wants to read and research he wants to do before acting on the legislation, according to the Associate Press.
He has previously said his decision will be based on his conscience. But he has spent two months consulting with prosecutors, murder victims' families, death penalty opponents and religious leaders - including retired Anglican Archbishop Desmond Tutu of South Africa and Sister Helen Prejean, the inspiration for the movie "Dead Man Walking" - as he weigh his options.
Personally, the Chicago Democrat brings a mixed record to the decision: Raised a Roman Catholic, he says he supports the death penalty when properly implemented. But he has upheld Illinois' moratorium on executions imposed in 2000 by then-Gov. George Ryan.
Obama's public stance on the death penalty is similar to Quinn's. He has stated that he supports it in egregious cases, but was also a "driving force" behind capital punishment reforms in Illinois, according to the Sun-Times.
"I feel fairly confident that he's going to sign it," Sen. Raoul told the Sun-Times. ". . .He wants to be respectful to both sides of the issue when he makes his decision."