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Archive for Friday, February 19, 2010

Bill to abolish the death penalty fails in Kansas Senate

February 19, 2010, 8:15 a.m. Updated February 19, 2010, 5:42 p.m.

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State Sen. Carolyn McGinn, a Republican, argues against the death penalty during debate on the Senate floor on Friday.

State Sen. Carolyn McGinn, a Republican, argues against the death penalty during debate on the Senate floor on Friday.

— After a sometimes emotional debate, a bill to abolish the state death penalty failed Friday in the Kansas Senate.

Perhaps reflecting society’s divide on the issue, the Senate voted 20-20 to repeal capital punishment, one vote less than the 21-vote majority needed for passage. The vote likely kills the issue for the year.

State Sen. Carolyn McGinn, R-Sedgwick, led the charge to get rid of the death penalty, saying it failed to deter crime, was applied unfairly and simply wasn’t working.

McGinn said the extra funding required to litigate death penalty cases robbed other needs, such as public safety and social services that could pre-empt criminal activity.

“Can we use it (funds spent on death penalty cases) to solve cold cases for those families who don’t even know who murdered,” their family member, she asked.

And she and others said it was inconsistent to be opposed to abortion and support the death penalty. However heinous murderers are, they are still children of God, she said. “Tell me, at what point in time did they lose that status and who made that decision,” she said.

But supporters of the death penalty pushed back. Senate Majority Leader Derek Schmidt, R-Independence, sought to gut the bill, saying he didn’t want to put family members of murder victims through the emotional roller-coaster of a death penalty debate. But his amendment failed on a 20-20 vote.

Several senators maintained that they could be opposed to abortion and for the death penalty.

State Sen. Susan Wagle, R-Wichita, said U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia voted several years ago to uphold the Kansas death penalty statute and he was a devout Catholic. “I’m voting with Justice Scalia,” Wagle said.

Sen. Ty Masterson, R-Andover, argued that a condemned person would be more likely to repent than someone who is serving life in prison.

Since 1994 when capital punishment was re-instated in Kansas, 10 men have been sentenced to die, but no executions have occurred.

Senate Bill 375 would have repealed the death penalty. It would not have affected those 10 cases but would have abolished the death penalty for crimes committed on or after July 1. It would have established a crime of aggravated murder that is punishable with life in prison without the chance of parole.

State Sen. John Vratil, R-Leawood, said that nationwide since 1973, 139 people sentenced to die were exonerated through DNA evidence. “I don’t think that we can afford that kind of error rate when we are talking about taking that person’s life,” he said.

And state Sen. Chris Steineger, D-Kansas City, argued that life in prison was harsher than execution. “The most cruel punishment is to be locked up in prison, alive but without freedom,” Steineger said.

But several opponents of the bill said that the Senate debate was futile because even if the bill passed, the House was not interested in acting on the issue.

The Douglas County delegation represented the split in the Senate. Marci Francisco, D-Lawrence, voted for the repeal, saying her constituents supported getting rid of the death penalty. But Tom Holland, D-Baldwin City, said he supported the death penalty and that he heard from constituents on both sides of the issue. Holland turned out to be the only Democrat of the nine Democrats in the Senate to vote against the repeal.

Of the 31 Republicans in the Senate, 12 voted for the repeal, and 19 voted against it.

After the vote, Bill Lucero of Topeka, who has lobbied for years for an end to the death penalty, said he was disappointed that the bill failed, but encouraged by the near victory.

“This is just another step toward eventual abolition,” Lucero said.

Comments

Alexander Neighbors 4 years, 5 months ago

just send people on Death row to Texas, they already have the infrastructure to take of the problem

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Alexander Neighbors 4 years, 5 months ago

just send people on Death row to Texas, they already have the infrastructure to take of the problem

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myvoice 4 years, 5 months ago

We need this law. BTK is sitting there being taken care of by the state because he knew he would not receive capital punishment. Why should the state of KS pay for him now?

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lawrenceRezident 4 years, 5 months ago

We should just outsource our death penalty cases to the Taliban. They would probably do it without much hesitation! lol

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ksjayhawk74 4 years, 5 months ago

Again... The death penalty is much more expensive than life in prison.

Plus, when a person is execute, their punishment ends immediately. When a person serves a life sentence, then they are punished for many, many years. Life in prison is not fun by any means so don't think these guys are being put up at a Winter Lodge in Aspen or anything..

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Centerville 4 years, 5 months ago

Three words: Hickock, Smith, and (now) Carr.

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kansastruthteller 4 years, 5 months ago

"State Sen. Susan Wagle, R-Wichita, said U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia voted several years ago to uphold the Kansas death penalty statute and he was a devout Catholic. “I’m voting with Justice Scalia,” Wagle said."

Oh the ignorance of our elected officials. Wagle the difference between Scalia and you is that the SCOTUS should not make law. Their job is simply to determine if a law is Constitutional. If a law is Constitutional then a justice has no choice but to uphold it.

On the other hand, our elected officials are charged with making law and Wagle missed her opportunity to do so because she seems confused and thinks she is a supreme court justice.

Holland apparently believes that the constituents that support the death penalty are more important than those that don't and we all know it was a calculated political vote.

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Paula Kissinger 4 years, 5 months ago

BTW...BTK could not receive the death penalty because his crimes were committed in an era when the death penalty was not in effect. IMO the justice system is so fouled up I don't know what it will take to repair it. Sentences used to be carried out immediately without 15 appeals. I am sick of hearing about rights. Victims rights still are on the side of the road and the highway is littered with convicts begging for mercy. Best movie line ever was from In Cold Blood when the prosecutor said to the jury something to the effect of "These 2 men who had no mercy for their victims now ask for yours". They got no mercy, a short while later they were both hung and justice was done...according to the state law.

And don't you whiners start in with comments about the cases where the innocent who were wrongly charged and later exonerated give credence to anti-death penalty lobbyists. Most of those people were convicted pre-DNA.

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barlowtl 4 years, 5 months ago

The death penalty is more expensive to carry out than life imprisonment, Taking legal short cuts by cutting back on # of appeals would inclreas chance of error in an area where we would like to feel infallible. Are you willing to take responsibility for a mistake? We each have our own strong reasons to vote for or against the death penalty and being soft or hard on crime has nothing to do with it.

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jhokfan 4 years, 5 months ago

"Several senators maintained that they could be opposed to abortion and for the death penalty."

Only if you are a hypocrite.

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leedavid 4 years, 5 months ago

Dear Kansas State Legislatures, no one asked you to look into the death penalty, marriage for poor or half the stuff you are working on. If you could get busy cutting expenses, attracting new business vertures (jobs) saving schools, stopping pay cuts and employees being laid off...that would be great. It should be a priority, nothing else should be discussed....do you job. OK?

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jhokfan 4 years, 5 months ago

comrade,

the sanctity of life

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classclown 4 years, 5 months ago

"And she and others said it was inconsistent to be opposed to abortion and support the death penalty."

==================================

I've been saying that for years. No one seems to be consistent. Those against abortion favor the death penalty while those that are against the death penalty favor abortion.

Everyone needs to pick a side and stick with it.

You need to be either against both abortion and the death penalty, or for both abortion and the death penalty.

Pro life or anti life. Take your pick.

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jhokfan 4 years, 5 months ago

Ah, I get it. It's the quality of the human. It’s wrong to have an abortion because its life is sacred. But it’s okay to execute a fully grown human outside of the womb. Sorry, but they are not mutually exclusive. You can’t have it both ways without being a hypocrite.

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nobody1793 4 years, 5 months ago

Kill 'em All. Let Metallica sort 'em out.

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leedavid 4 years, 5 months ago

jhokfan says... Ah, I get it. It's the quality of the human. It’s wrong to have an abortion because its life is sacred. But it’s okay to execute a fully grown human outside of the womb. Sorry, but they are not mutually exclusive. You can’t have it both ways without being a hypocrite.

+++++++++++++++++++++++

I see where your going with this logic...killing a seven time murderer is the same as killing an innocent baby...you can't be serious?

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jhokfan 4 years, 5 months ago

leedavid:

I'm afraid you've misinterpreted my comments. Read the last post by classclown and see if that makes any sense.

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feeble 4 years, 5 months ago

jhokfan, the other posters are old testament believers (Christian or otherwise), you are not going to convince them.

As much of a bleeding-heart, pinko chickenhawk as I am, I think it is a crime beyond the pale for the State to execute an individual for no other reason than the State needs someone to die for a crime.

If you are willing to accept the execution of an innocent individual by the State, if only because "mistakes happen", then you also have accepted that the individual has no rights that cannot be immediately suborned by the State. That is, you accept Tyranny.

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leedavid 4 years, 5 months ago

Jhokfan: I apologize, I misspoke....or is it miswrote? Whatever it is when you say the wrong thing with your fingers on a keyboard...

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Sean Livingstone 4 years, 5 months ago

Just like the abortion debate, death penalty has two faces. I'm a supporter of death penalty, only if the legal system is functioning properly. Can you imagine that DNA tests continue to find innocents serving jail sentences right here in America? And if we kill them, we can never rectify if we have caught the wrong person! If a person is really guilty of a horrific crime, then don't waste our money. Abortion is the same. I'm against abortion, but it's an individual right. Why are we calling a foetus baby? It's the same as we don't kill dog in our society, while we munch away beef. Same same same.

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jhokfan 4 years, 5 months ago

LarryNative:

I am merely making a philosophical argument. If one believes abortion is wrong because life is sacred, why does it not hold true in the case of a criminal on death row? That being said, I have no moral or ethical qualm with a woman desiring to terminate a pregnancy. I also have no issues with capital punishment in theory. However, in practice it leaves no recourse for errors and therefore I could not support it.

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liar 4 years, 5 months ago

Life is what you take it. Playing God is easy 'cause it says in the old testament that you should take an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth. I never figured that one out when the new testament says love one another and forgive your enemies. Such contradictions. Oh well, go figure... I guess old trumps new sometimes, when it suits.

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