Topeka The state’s need to cut spending to prevent a budget deficit is a good argument for abolishing the death penalty to save money, Senate leaders said Monday.
But they also said that they’re not sure how the argument will sell.
The Senate Judiciary Committee plans hearings Thursday and Friday on a bill by Sen. Carolyn McGinn to abolish the death penalty starting July 1. Chairman Tim Owens, R-Overland Park, said the committee will vote on the bill either Friday or next week.
The bill wouldn’t affect the 10 inmates already under sentence of death, nor would it apply to Justin Thurber, convicted in Cowley County of killing Jodi Sanderholm, a 19-year-old community college student, in 2007. A jury recommended death, and Thurber is to be sentenced March 20.
When McGinn in-troduced the bill, she said death sentences are too expensive and unnecessary because a person can be sentenced to life in prison without parole. She said lawmakers need to save money to keep the budget balanced for the fiscal year that begins July 1.
Legislation to repeal the death penalty is pending in at least seven other states: Colorado, Maryland, Montana, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Mexico and Washington, according to the Death Penalty Information Center. Thirty-six states have the death penalty.