Topeka Kansans calling for repeal of the state's death penalty were glad to hear on Thursday that Maryland became the 18th state to abolish capital punishment.
Kansas faces the same problems that led Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley to sign the repeal of that state's death penalty, according to the Kansas Coalition Against the Death Penalty.
"The lesson from Maryland is that there is no fixing the death penalty process,” said Mary Sloan, executive director of KCAD Penalty.
“Maryland tried to reform the system with a moratorium on executions and extensive reforms. But in the end, Maryland learned that the only way to fix the death penalty is to replace it,” Sloan said.
In Kansas, four death sentences have been overturned because of various errors made during the trials. No executions have been carried out under the 1994 statute reinstating the death penalty.
"The Kansas death penalty is too drawn out, too costly and ridden with mistakes,” Sloan said. “Replacing it with life without parole will eliminate the possibility of executing an innocent person, and provide better services to victims’ families."
Two bills were introduced in the Kansas Legislature this year to eliminate the death penalty.
Senate Bill 126 and House Bill 2397 would replace it with the sentence of life without the possibility of parole. HB 2397 would shift funds saved by repealing the death penalty to support the families of homicide victims and provide mental health services.
Neither bill has received a committee hearing.
The last time the Kansas Legislature debated repeal of the death penalty was in 2010 when the Senate voted 20-20 to abolish capital punishment. That was one vote less than the 21-vote majority needed to advance the measure.
Supporters of abolishing the death penalty say it requires extra funding to litigate death penalty cases, which robs dollars from other budget needs.