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Illinois last week became the 16th state to abolish the death penalty. In making his decision, Gov. Pat Quinn said, "The evidence presented to me by former prosecutors and judges with decades of experience in the criminal justice system has convinced me that it is impossible to devise a system that is consistent, that is free of discrimination on the basis of race, geography or economic circumstance, and that always gets it right."

Quinn acted despite pleas from Lisa Madigan, Illinois attorney general, who wrote him a letter saying that she continued "to believe that the death penalty is an appropriate and just punishment when a defendant commits multiple murders or murders a victim in a particularly heinous manner or circumstances."

Seven states have had bills proposed this year to abolish the death penalty.

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