Archive for Monday, March 16, 2009

Death penalty debate under way in Senate

The Kansas Senate gallery fills in preparation for debate on a bill to repeal the death penalty.

The Kansas Senate gallery fills in preparation for debate on a bill to repeal the death penalty.

March 16, 2009, 2:05 p.m. Updated March 16, 2009, 5:50 p.m.


Kansas Senators John Vratil and Vickie Schmidt confer before Senate deliberations on a bill to repeal the death penalty.

Kansas Senators John Vratil and Vickie Schmidt confer before Senate deliberations on a bill to repeal the death penalty.

Up-to-the-minute updates

Reporter Scott Rothschild is watching the death penalty debate and posting quick updates via his Twitter account.

The updates are limited to 140 characters and so will feature abbreviations and shorthand. They are unedited.

5:55 p.m.: the takeaway after 3 hours of debate -- kansas death penalty is safe, but study will continue

5:45 p.m.: it appears a deal is forming to send the bill back to committee and then an interim study after the session is over

5:28 p.m.: Schmidt moves to strike the enacting clause -- essentially to kill the bill. "Senate Bill 208 is not ready for prime time," Schmidt said.

5:11 p.m.: Schmidt says New Jersey repealed its death penalty and 57 of 60 who had already been sentenced to death -- their sentences were reversed

4:57 p.m.: Senate Majority Leader Derek Schmidt, R-Independence, sez bill has holes -- would actually repeal life without parole. Owens says no.

4:28 p.m.: Sen. Marci Francisco, D-Lawrence, will vote 2 repeal death penalty. Fear of executing innocent, doesn't deter crime, are some of her reasons

4:14 p.m.: Carolyn McGinn says because of death penalty, victims' families suffer through longer appeals

3:47 p.m.: Terry Bruce, R-Hutchinson, asks w/out death penalty how would u punish an already life sentence inmate who kills another inmate in prison

3:27 p.m.: Susan Wagle, R-Wichita, says removal of death penalty is another step toward devaluation of innocent human life.

3:26 p.m.: David Haley, D-Kansas City, says the death penalty has been ineffective and wastes money.

3:12 p.m.: Carolyn McGinn, R-Sedgwick, sez hi cost of death pen important because needed programs 2 help folks are being cut for law that hasn't worked

3:02 p.m.: Dick Kelsey, R-Goddard, slams idea that death pen. 2 costly. "We get on a slippery slope when we try to put a price on our justice system."

2:52 p.m.: east and west galleries of senate are full as state Sen. Tim Owens begins explanation of sb 208 -- repeal of death penalty

TOPEKA — The Kansas Senate this afternoon will start debate on whether to repeal the death penalty.

But really the debate has been going on for 150 years.

In 1859, the Kansas Territorial Legislature approved a death penalty, which was abolished in 1907. In 1935, the death penalty was reinstated, but that ended again in 1972.

Capital punishment was again reinstated in 1994, which brings us to today.

Since 1994, 11 men have received death sentences in Kansas but none have been executed because of appeals and challenges to the law.

Supporters of repealing the death penalty say it has become too expensive to litigate, and isn’t fairly administered. Life without the possibility of parole is a more acceptable sentence, they say.

But opponents of the bill, including Attorney General Steve Six, say cost shouldn’t be a factor when sentencing the worst of the worst.

Check back to after 2:30 p.m. for a live blog from the hearing.


woodenfleaeater 9 years, 1 month ago

(whistling, twiddling thumbs, waiting for debate to start in blogging world)

Dudley Sharp 9 years, 1 month ago

Cost Savings: The Death Penalty Dudley Sharp, Justice Matters, contact info below

Reasonable and responsible protocols, currently in use, will produce a death penalty which costs no more, or will cost less, than LWOP.

Death penalty states could better implement justice, as given by jurors, and save taxpayers money, currently wasted by many irresponsible state systems.

1) Obvious solution: Improve the system. Virginia executes in 5-7 years. 65% of those sentenced to death have been executed. Only 15% of their death penalty cases are overturned. The national averages are 11 years, 14% and 36%, respectively.

With the high costs of long term imprisonment, a true life sentence will be more expensive than such a death penalty protocol.

Current cost study problems

2) Geriatric care: Most cost studies exclude geriatric care, recently found to be $60,000-$90,000/inmate/yr., a significant omission from life sentence costs. Prisoners are often found to be geriatric at relatively young ages, 50-55, because of lifestyle.

3) Plea Bargain to life: ONLY the presence of the death penalty allows for a plea bargain to a maximum life sentence. Such plea cost benefit, estimated at $500,000 to $1 million/case, accrues as a cost benefit/credit to the death penalty. I am aware of no study which includes this.

4) The cost of death row: There need not be any additonal cost for death row. Missouri doesn't have one.

NOTE: Depending upon jurisdiction, the inclusion of only (2) and (3) will result in a minimal cost differential between the two sanctions or an actual net cost benefit to the death penalty. Adding (1) would, very likely, mean that all death penalty jurisdictions would see a cost savings with the death penalty as compared to a true life sentence.


Dudley Sharp 9 years, 1 month ago


5) The Disinformation problem: The pure deception in some cost "studies" is overt.

    a)  Some studies compare the cost of a death penalty case, including pre trial, trial, appeals and incarceration, to only the cost of incarceration for 40 years, excluding all trial costs and appeals, and geriatric care for a life sentence. The much cited, highly misleading Texas "study" does this.
    b) It has been claimed that it costs $3.2 million/execution in Florida. That "study" decided to add the cost of the entire death penalty system in Florida ($57 million), which included all of the death penalty cases and dividing that number by only the number of executions (18). It is the same as stating that the cost of LWOP is $15 million/case, based upon all costs of 2000 LWOP cases being placed into the 40 lifers to have died (given an average cost of $300, 000/LWOP case, so far, for those 2000 cases.)
        c) Many of the "studies" suffer from similar or worse problems.

6) FCC economist Dr. Paul Zimmerman finds that executions result in a huge cost benefit to society. "Specifically, it is estimated that each state execution deters somewhere between 3 and 25 murders per year (14 being the average). Assuming that the value of human life is approximately $5 million {i.e. the average of the range estimates provided by Viscussi (1993)}, our estimates imply that society avoids losing approximately $70 million per year on average at the current rate of execution all else equal." The study used state level data from 1978 to 1997 for all 50 states (excluding Washington D.C.). (1)

That is a cost benefit of $70 million per execution. 15 additional recent studies, inclusive of their defenses, support the deterrent effect.

No cost study has included such calculations.

Although we find it inappropriate to put a dollar value on life, evidently this is not uncommon for economists, insurers, etc.

We know that living murderers are infinitely more likely to harm and murder, again, than are executed murderers. There is no doubt that executions do save innocent lives. What value do you put on the lives saved? Certainly not less than $5 million.


7) The main reason sentences are given is because jurors find that it is the most just punishment available. No state, concerned with justice, will base a decision on cost alone. If they did, all cases would be plea bargained and every crime would have a probation option.

1). "State Executions, Deterrence and the Incidence of Murder", Paul R. Zimmerman (, March 3. 2003, Social Science Research Network,

copyright 2003-2009 Dudley Sharp Permission for distribution of this document, in whole or in part, is approved with proper attribution.

Dudley Sharp, Justice Matters


Dudley Sharp 9 years, 1 month ago

If the alleged $400,000 extra per death penalty, over a true life without parole case, is accurate, the death penalty will still save money.

If Kansas only plea bargains one case per year to a Life Without Parole (LWOP), then the death penalty is a financial benefir to the state.

Plea bargains to LWOP can only occur if you have the death penalty. The cost savings of such plea baragisn are the cost of trial and appeals in a LWOP - money saved with the plea,

flux 9 years, 1 month ago

Do not get rid of the death penalty until you take out the Carr brothers!!

billbodiggens 9 years, 1 month ago

Good Grief Dudley.... buy an ad or get yourself interviewed for an article or something. Or just get a life or something.

Fort_Aubrey 9 years, 1 month ago

"Susan Wagle, R-Wichita, says removal of death penalty is another step toward devaluation of innocent human life."


Dudley Sharp 9 years, 1 month ago

Saint (and Pope) ) Pius V:

"The just use of (executions), far from involving the crime of murder, is an act of paramount obedience to this (Fifth) Commandment which prohibits murder."   "The Roman Catechism of the Council of Trent" (1566).

woodenfleaeater 9 years, 1 month ago

are dudley's comments being copied and pasted from a paper he wrote?

Dudley Sharp 9 years, 1 month ago

Valuing innocent life with the death penalty.

With criminal punishments we take away that which is valued.

With fines and restitution, , we take away money

With incarceration, we take away freedom.

With the death penalty, life.

If we take away that which is not valued, it cannot be a sanction.

Biblical scholar Dr. Carl F. H. Henry:

"The rejection of capital punishment is not to be dignified as a higher Christian way" that enthrones the ethics of Jesus. The argument that Jesus as the incarnation of divine love cancels the appropriateness of capital punishment in the New Testament era has little to commend it. Nowhere does the Bible repudiate capital punishment for premeditated murder; not only is the death penalty for deliberate killing of a fellow human being permitted, but it is approved and encouraged, and for any government that attaches at least as much value to the life of an innocent victim as to a deliberate murderer, it is ethically imperative." Twilight Of A Great Civilization, Crossway, 1988, p 70,72.

Fort_Aubrey 9 years, 1 month ago

Google can tell you a lot. Mr. Sharp is a self-described expert from Texas, having formed a pro capital punishment organization there. He devotes his life to the advocacy of the death penalty.

Stay in Texas, Dudley. Continue to make your State known as the beacon of human rights violations of several sorts, a reputation known by the entire developed world.

Meanwhile, you can stay off our forum and our Kansas discussion with your lengthy posts. Let us Kansans tirade at each other. We don't need much help from you to do so. Because I like my Lawrence friends, even my idiot friends, far more than a iconoclast from Texas.

Dudley Sharp 9 years, 1 month ago

Fort Aubrey: I am in Texas. Ideas have no oundaries. The Death Penalty: Not a Human Rights Violation

Some wrongly state that executions are a human rights violation.

The argument is as follows: Life is a fundamental human right.  Therefore, taking it away is a fundamental violation of human rights.

Those who say that the death penalty is a human rights violation have no solid moral or philosophical foundation for making such a statement.  What opponents of capital punishment really are saying is that they just don't approve of executions.

Certainly, both freedom and life are fundamental human rights.  On this, there is virtually no disagreement. 

However, again, virtually all agree, that freedom may be taken away when there is a violation of the social contract. Freedom, a fundamental human right, may be taken away from those who violate society's laws.  So to is the fundamental human right of life forfeit when the violation of the social contract is most grave.

No one disputes that taking freedom away is a different result than taking life away. 

However, the issue is the incorrect claim that taking away fundamental human rights -- be that freedom or life -- is a human rights violation.  It is not.  It depends specifically on the circumstances. 

How do we know?  Because those very same governments and human rights stalwarts, rightly, tell us so.  Universally, both governments and human rights organizations approve and encourage taking away the fundamental human right of freedom, as a proper response to some criminal activity.

Why do governments and human rights organizations not condemn just incarceration of criminals as a fundamental human rights violation?  Because they think incarceration is just fine.

Why do some of those same groups condemn execution as a human rights violation? Only because they don't like it.  They have no moral or philosophical foundation for calling execution a human rights violation.

In the context of criminals violating the social contract, those criminals have voluntarily subjected themselves to the laws of the state.  And they have knowingly placed themselves in a position where their fundamental human rights of freedom and life are subject to being forfeit by their actions.

Opinion is only worth the value of its foundation.  Those who call execution a human rights violation have no credible foundation for that claim.  What they are really saying is "We just don't like it."

Dudley Sharp 9 years, 1 month ago

Enhanced Due Process

No knowledgeable and honest party questions that the death penalty has the most extensive due process protections in US criminal law.   Therefore, actual innocents are more likely to be sentenced to life imprisonment and more likely to die in prison serving under that sentence, that it is that an actual innocent will be executed.   That is. logically, conclusive.

billbodiggens 9 years, 1 month ago

Dudley-Do-Right, Texas Rangers, always gets his man, innocent or guilty, he always gets his man. Hurah for Texas, the murder and execution capital of the world.

Chris Ogle 9 years, 1 month ago

Wonder what Dudley thinks about this?

Fort_Aubrey 9 years, 1 month ago

As many executions as Texas has administered, Dudley ought to take credit for making it the safest state, if not country around.

I wonder how that's all working out for him?

Bubarubu 9 years, 1 month ago

"Some wrongly state that executions are a human rights violation.

The argument is as follows: Life is a fundamental human right. Therefore, taking it away is a fundamental violation of human rights."

The perfect example of a straw person. To simplify the human rights objection to capital punishment in this way is the height of absurdity.

gccs14r 9 years, 1 month ago

When the State can guarantee that it never imprisons an innocent person, then a discussion about whether to allow the State to execute its prisoners can take place. Until guilt can be established without error, no one should be executed.

There are some real scum out there who have proven that they do not deserve any kind of a life, but the risk of killing an innocent person is too high to justify executing a sentence of death.

Dudley Sharp 9 years, 1 month ago

xbusguy (Anonymous) says… Wonder what Dudley thinks about this?

Generally, a bunch of silly posts, with some thoughtful ones thrown it. Pretty normal.

Gcc14r: What do you think the risk of executing an innocent is?

It looks like we have been about 99.7% accurate in convicting the actually guilty and all of those have been released.

Because of the super due process of the death penalty, actual innocents are more likely to be sentenced to life and are more likely to die, an innocent in jail, than it is that an innocent will be executed.

In the US, there is no proof of an innocent being executed, at least since 1900.

There is overwhelmimg proof that living murderers harm and murder, again.

Of all the government programs in the world, that put innocents at risk, is there one with a safer record and with greater protections than the US death penalty?


gccs14r 9 years, 1 month ago

"In the US, there is no proof of an innocent being executed, at least since 1900."

Because the government says so? Ha. They don't dare admit it, because they would then be compelled to stop all executions.

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