Gov. Bruce Rauner’s proposal to reinstate Illinois’ death penalty for mass killers and people who slay law enforcement officers thrust the issue back into the spotlight.
The state of Illinois had 12 executions after reinstating the death penalty in 1977, though the last execution was in 1999 prior to Gov. George Ryan’s moratorium.
In 2011, Illinois became the 16th state to stop using capital punishment. But the process of abolishing the death penalty took more than a decade and included a moratorium that spanned three governors.
Feb. 5, 1999
Anthony Porter is released from prison after serving 17 years for a double murder that another man later admitted to. The case helps reignite debate about the death penalty in Illinois.
March 17, 1999
Andrew Kokoraleis, found guilty in the 1982 murder of an Elmhurst woman, becomes the last person executed in Illinois to date.
Nov. 14-18, 1999
A five-day Tribune series examines flaws in Illinois’ death penalty system, including faulty evidence, legal incompetence and dishonest trial tactics.
Jan. 18, 2000
Steve Manning, a former Chicago police officer, becomes the 13th Illinois death row inmate to be exonerated since 1977.
Jan. 31, 2000
Gov. George Ryan announces a moratorium on the death penalty, making Illinois the first state to take such action. Ryan’s actions came while he was under federal investigation for unrelated corruption. He later went to federal prison for a corruption scandal that included at least 13 people dying from accidents caused by people who illegally obtained commercial drivers licenses through bribes.
Jan. 11, 2003
Two days prior to leaving office, Ryan commutes the sentences of 164 death row inmates to life in prison without parole, citing a system that is “haunted by the demon of error.” Ryan pardoned four Death Row inmates, resulting in the release of three. Another three Death Row inmates had their sentences shortened to 40-year terms. The actions take 167 people off of Death Row.
Nov. 19, 2003
State lawmakers pass a historic death penalty reform package that includes a ban on capital punishment for defendants with IQs of less than 75.
May 18, 2005
A Senate committee votes down proposed legislation, passed by the House, that would have raised the standard of proof for the death penalty to guilt beyond “all doubt.”
Jan. 11, 2011
The Senate passes legislation abolishing the death penalty in Illinois five days after the House does the same.
March 9, 2011
Gov. Pat Quinn signs legislation abolishing the death penalty in Illinois and commutes 15 Illinois inmates on death row to sentences of life without parole.