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Archive for Thursday, March 5, 2009

Kansas Senate revives bill to abolish death penalty

March 5, 2009, 11:16 a.m. Updated March 5, 2009, 9:58 p.m.

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— An attempt to abolish Kansas’ death penalty is back on track, giving capital punishment opponents another, unexpected chance to argue that it’s too expensive when the state faces budget problems.

The Senate Judiciary Committee voted 6-5 on Thursday to forward the bill to the chamber. That decision came only a day after the committee voted to have the bill studied further this summer, which would have ended this year’s debate.

Death penalty opponents have made the costs of capital punishment their main argument this year because of the state’s recession-related financial problems. Opponents claim there wouldn’t be any real savings in repealing it.

Kansas is among 10 states with legislation to repeal the death penalty to save money, according to the Death Penalty Information Center in Washington. New Mexico and Montana have made the most progress, with one legislative chamber in each state approving the repeal.

“The economy is still in crisis, so it is certainly a relevant issue for all states,” said Richard Dieter, the center’s executive director.

A 2003 state audit showed that costs in death penalty cases averaged $1.2 million, compared with $740,000 for other murder cases. But Attorney General Steve Six has called the analysis flawed.

Megan Heyka DiGiovanni, of Topeka, said the events surrounding the bill left her “in disbelief.” Her brother, Brad Heyka, was among four people kidnapped and shot execution style on a soccer field in 2000 by brothers Jonathan and Reginald Carr, on death row since 2002. A fifth person survived.

“It’s not a matter of costs,” she said. “It still goes back to what it was, a moral issue. To say all death penalty cases cost more isn’t a fact.”

The bill calls for an end to death sentences after July 1. But it would allow for inmates who already had been sentenced to be put to death, including the Carr brothers and eight other people already on Kansas’ death row. The current death penalty law was enacted in 1994, but nobody has been executed under it.

Comments

Raider 5 years, 9 months ago

Keep capital punishment on the books, and USE IT. There hasn't been an execution in Kansas since before I was born. It costs the state (us, the taxpayers) more to feed, clothe and house these criminals for the rest of their natural life than it does to execute. If you want to cut costs, change the method of execution. A bullet is cheap.

Prisons have gotten way too costly. Bring back minimal services, maximum security, chain gangs and hard labor. It will make people think twice before wanting to go to jail.

Shardwurm 5 years, 9 months ago

Pickton was convicted in the murders of six women in Canada. He was charged in the deaths of 20 more. At least 49 women total are believed to have been murdered then rendered at his hog-slaughtering farm.

His sentence? Life in prison...with possibility of parole after 25 years - "...the longest sentence available under Canadian law for murder."

I'm curious how many people think this man shouldn't be executed...because that's the kind of thing you'll get if you abolish the death penalty.

texburgh 5 years, 9 months ago

So where are all those so-called "pro-life" Catholic legislators on this bill? Unless of course, life ends at birth.

The Catholic church has a long standing position in opposition to the death penalty. Why am I not seeing the archbishop calling for this bill to be passed?

Should Catholic legislators who oppose this bill be told they can no longer take the eucharist?

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