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Ill. gov. ends death penalty, commutes sentences of

 Ill. gov. ends death penalty, commutes sentences of
Wednesday, March 9, 2011 - 3:46pm

(AP) - Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn has commuted the death sentences of 15 prisoners who faced the death penalty.

Quinn acted Wednesday moments after he abolished Illinois' death penalty. By changing their sentences to life in prison, Quinn emptied the state's death row, meaning that Illinois may never execute another person.

This is the second time an Illinois governor has cleared death row. Republican George Ryan did it a decade ago because of concerns that an innocent person might be put to death.

Since then, prosecutors have occasionally still sought death sentences, leading to a slow build-up on death row. But no one has been executed because of the state's moratorium on carrying out death sentences.

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