death penalty

Kansas Republicans voted Saturday to leave support for the death penalty out of their party platform. It was the most contentious of the issues Republicans took up at their state convention in Topeka in anticipation of this year’s elections, which will decide the fate of all 125 House seats and 40 Senate seats in the state legislature.

Jim McClean

A bipartisan group of Kansas legislators is attempting to repeal the state’s death penalty. They say they’re building support among rank and file lawmakers but having trouble overcoming opposition from legislative leaders.

The lawmakers sponsoring the repeal bill say the death penalty is ineffective, wasteful and unjust.

Ken Piorkowski, flickr Creative Commons

Some lawmakers say efforts to repeal the Kansas death penalty may be stymied by the U.S. Supreme Court decision upholding three Kansas death sentences.

A bill repealing the death penalty in Kansas was introduced Friday in the House. The Lawrence Journal-World reports the measure would prohibit death sentences for any crimes committed after July 1.

Mark Wilson / Getty Images

Opponents of the death penalty in Kansas are hoping the pope’s words can spur some action on the issue. Pope Francis called for ending capital punishment during a speech before a joint session of Congress Thursday.

Mary Sloan, with the Kansas Coalition Against the Death Penalty, had hoped Pope Francis would talk about the issue during his visit to the U.S., and she’s especially pleased it came during his high-profile speech.

James Duncan Davidson / Wikimedia Commons / Creative Commons

Bryan Stevenson is the executive director of the Equal Justice Initiative in Montgomery, Ala., a private, nonprofit human rights organization, helping the poor, the incarcerated, the condemned and children. He is also professor of law at New York University School of Law and received the MacArthur Foundation Genius Grant, and also won national acclaim for his work challenging bias against the poor and people of color.

Rennett Stowe / Flickr

The State of Kansas hasn’t executed an inmate since 1965, despite capital punishment being legal in the state and nine men currently sitting on death row. This story takes a look at why that is, as well as the story of Curtis McCarty, an Oklahoma man who was exonerated after spending 21 years in prison, the majority of those years on death row. He spoke about his life in prison at Wichita State University last week.

Stephen Koranda

  The Kansas House has rejected a bill that would have sped up death penalty appeals.

Some House members say they oppose the bill because they believe the courts should control the speed of the cases.

Buhler Representative Steven Becker opposes the bill because the death penalty measure has not gone through the normal process of committee review and a hearing before the full House.

"I think a bill of that magnitude needs to go through all the proper channels to make sure we all have a voice in it," Becker says. 

Testimony on a bill that would speed up death penalty appeals in Kansas concluded Tuesday at the state Legislature.

A staff member with the attorney general's office told a Senate committee that long filings and delays often extend the process. But Sarah Johnson, a defense attorney who has worked on death penalty cases, said the cases are very complex and a lot of time is needed to prepare.

Johnson said the bill could harm certain defense cases.

The Kansas Supreme Court heard death penalty appeals Tuesday from two brothers convicted in a quadruple murder.

The Kansas Legislative Division of Post Audit will not be analyzing the costs of the state death penalty, at least for now.

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