Archive for Friday, February 12, 2010

Bill to abolish the death penalty may remain bottled up

February 12, 2010, 3:24 p.m. Updated February 12, 2010, 3:24 p.m.


— Legislation to repeal the Kansas death penalty may be dead for the 2010 legislative session.

Senate Majority Leader Derek Schmidt, R-Independence, said Friday he didn't know when or if the bill, which was approved last month by the Senate Judiciary Committee, would be considered.

“Still weighing all the options,” Schmidt said. Asked if that includes not having a debate, Schmidt shrugged.

Senate Minority Leader Anthony Hensley, D-Topeka, said it would be a shame if the legislation was killed without a full Senate debate.

Hensley said Schmidt wants to avoid making Republicans go on the record either for or against the death penalty.

But Schmidt, who tried to kill the repeal bill in committee, said it doesn’t serve any purpose to drag family members of murder victims through an emotional debate if the bill has little chance of succeeding in the House or with Gov. Mark Parkinson.

Bill Lucero, Kansas coordinator of Murder Victims’ Families for Reconciliation and a member of the Kansas Coalition Against the Death Penalty, however, didn’t agree.

He noted that Parkinson hasn’t shut the door to repeal of the death penalty and that many in the House want to discuss the issue. Parkinson, who helped draft Kansas’ current death penalty statute when he was a legislator, recently said he was open to looking at what the Legislature might do.

Lucero said he sympathizes with family members of murder victims who have testified in favor of the death penalty, but he said many family members of victims have remained silent. Lucero, whose father was murdered, has been lobbying for repeal of the death penalty for more than 30 years.

“The death penalty is not serving anybody any good so it is time for this debate to occur,” he said.

Kansas re-instated the death penalty in 1994, but has yet to execute anyone.


Paul R Getto 8 years, 1 month ago

Too bad; they could have actually accomplished something on this topic.

DonnieM 8 years, 1 month ago

The death penalty system in Kansas is ineffective as a public safety tool. It's very expensive and it is unfairly practiced. Mr. Schmidt doesn't want to debate this bill because it might reveal that the death penalty system is functioning currently as a tool for for him to appear tough on crime as he runs for Attorney General. "Tough on crime" is a tool of political rhetoric. Getting rid of the death penalty system could put more funds toward victim's support services, better equipped police officers and more extensive investigations into cases not yet solved. That's being smart on crime. I hope there will be a debate on this bill.

Bob_Keeshan 8 years, 1 month ago

This isn't about avoiding making some Republicans go on the record.

This is about Derek Schmidt avoiding going on the record himself.

He is the Majority Leader of the Kansas Senate and as such has 100% control over what is debated in that body. If this is the kind of wishy-washy hedging he wants to bring to the Attorney General's office then I think I'll look elsewhere for a GOP nominee.

Liberty275 8 years, 1 month ago

I say keep the death penalty and if 5 or more credible witnesses see the guilty party commit an unmitigated capital crime, then fast-track the condemned to the chair. It may not be a deterrent but the death penalty definitely keeps a murderer from killing more innocent people. It's hard to stab someone from a hole in the ground when you are covered with dirt.

barlowtl 8 years, 1 month ago

Since we are not infallible do we have a plan B in case we encounter an "oops, sorry" after the fact? What's the going rate for reparations?

WilburM 8 years, 1 month ago

With Derek Schmidt's calculated, politically based inaction, we have a small example in KS of what goes on so much of the time in the US Congress. He's holding hostage a legitimate, important piece of public policy for his own political ambitions.

That's what Kansans want in an A.G. -- someone with no principles, save getting elected -- bad policy, bad politics, and no leadership.

pz5g1 8 years, 1 month ago

Unfortunately, anytime I see someone named Derek I only think of Derek Smalls, of Spinal Tap.

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