The criminal justice system makes mistakes.
And as long as Kansas has the death penalty, those mistakes might cost a wrongfully convicted person not only his freedom, but his life.
That was the message Eddie Lowery hoped to send Thursday night at an anti-death-penalty event at the Lawrence Arts Center, 940 N.H. Lowery spent 10 years in a Kansas prison for the rape of a woman near Manhattan. After serving his time, he was exonerated through DNA evidence in 2003.
“I believe there still are innocent men and women in prison,” Lowery said. “Possibly on death row ... .”
Lowery said he wants to use his story to abolish the death penalty and work on reforms to prevent wrongful convictions.
The event was sponsored by the ACLU of Kansas and Western Missouri, as well as the Kansas Coalition Against the Death Penalty (KCADP). After the showing of the documentary “No Tomorrow,” which highlighted a death penalty case, Lowery shared his story with a panel that included other anti-death-penalty advocates.
There are currently nine Kansas inmates sentenced to the death penalty, though no one has been executed in the state since 1965.
A bill in the Kansas Senate to abolish the death penalty failed by one vote in February of this year. But Shawn Bryant, an organizer for KCADP, said advocates are looking forward to future work to end the death penalty in the state.
“We’re hopeful that this next session, whoever comes into office, that they will relook at this issue,” he said.