The New York Times has reported that Illinois will become the 16th state in the union to ban capital punishment on its prisoners. Gov. Pat Quinn stated that since the justice system cannot have a perfect death penalty system, then the proper action is to abolish it. Gov. Quinn make a compelling case by giving examples of how more than a dozen death row prisoners were found to have been wrongfully convicted. It is going to be very interesting to see what the Illinois justice system is going to do about the current inmates on death row.
Most of the states that have abolished capital punishment are located in the northern part of the country, which includes states like Minnesota, Wisconsin, Maine, and Michigan, while all the states in the West and South still practice capital punishment. Most of these states are neighbors to Illinois. A map of all the states that show which states practice capital punishment can be found here on wikipedia.com.
According to deathpenaltyinfo.org, capital punishment only occurs in the rarest of circumstances, and has only been used when the person has murdered the victim directly or through participation in a felony where a victim died by the hands of another participant in the felony. However, usually the person who faces the death penalty murdered the victim directly.
For the year 2010, deathpenaltyinfo.org stated that only 46 people were executed in the United States; Texas was responsible for 40 percent of them. 44 of the executions occurred by lethal injection, one by electric chair, and one by firing squad. The firing squad took place in Utah, and the electric chair took place in Virginia.
I am a proponent of the death penalty. However, I do think rules need to be changed to make it much more difficult to be eligible to receive the death penalty, which is something I think that has gotten out of hand, especially in Texas. It is hard to argue with the logic that somebody who has been caught red-handed in the mass murder of people should be allowed to be kept alive on taxpayer dollars.
Deathpenaltyinfo.org states that the two states with the most convicts on death row are Texas and California, and while some people would like to point the finger at them for being trigger happy, we must remember that these are two of the most populated states in the country, as they are also two of the largest states size-wise.
I do not think this will put much pressure on any other states to question their own capital punishment laws other than maybe South Dakota, Indiana, or Ohio. This is mainly because they are surrounded by other states that do not allow capital punishment, as you can tell by the map on wikipedia.com. It seems that state lines usually connect the states that have banned capital punishment.
Someone I knew used to use the quote that somebody who goes out and kills a bunch of people is just a broken machine. And what do we do with a broken machine? Since we have no use for it in our society, we get rid of it.