Retired Kansas Secretary of Corrections Werholtz: “It’s time to end the death penalty”.

Roger Werholtz

 

Retired Kansas Secretary of Corrections, Roger Werholtz, has spoken out recently twice in support of death penalty abolition.

 

He served as Secretary of Corrections in Kansas for 8 years, as well as interim director in the Colorado Department of Corrections in 2013. He told the October 21st Abolition Conference that there is too much misconduct and error in the system “to be absolutely certain” we would not execute an innocent person.

 

He also addressed public safety and shared about his conversations with the families of the last 3 corrections professionals murdered in Colorado. All of them opposed the death penalty because they knew there were better ways to keep the public safe.

 

Secretary Werholtz told conference attendees “because of the drain of resources the death penalty creates in Kansas we’re not as safe as we could be.”

 

Then, in a October 31st guest column in the Topeka Capital Journal, Secretary Werholtz reiterated how the death penalty harms public safety.  He noted that studies have shown defense and court costs are significantly higher in death penalty cases.  He documented the ongoing challenges in the Kansas prison system–inability to staff the prisons, mandatory overtime, high prison guard turnover, loss of programs that do make a difference in prisoner behavior.  He went on to address the issue of a new prison and the resultant need for a new execution chamber.  Secretary Werholtz noted that consequences of moving the death chamber to El Dorado would be additional trauma for the staff there because of the well documented psychological cost for staff who know an inmate and participate in his/her execution.

 

He concluded his guest column this way:  “…There is no shortage of needs for the current Kansas Department of Corrections. We absolutely shouldn’t do anything to make the job of being a Kansas corrections officer even more difficult. With funds so scarce, and the needs so great, it simply makes no sense for us to continue to invest more in our ineffective death penalty. The opportunity is ripe: It’s time to end the death penalty.”

 

McIntyre case gives reason to pause

 

 

Rev. Thea Nietfeld and Bill Lucero

Rev. Thea Nietfeld and Bill Lucero

 

 

 

 

On Oct. 13th, after proceedings in Wyandotte County District court, Lamonte McIntyre was released from custody after serving 23 years on charges of murdering two persons.  The District Attorney agreed to the release calling it a case of “manifest injustice”.  McIntyre became the second person released in Kansas in two years due to exoneration after being convicted of first degree murder.

 

Murder victim family member, Bill Lucero, of Topeka, addressed the topic of error in our criminal justice system from a victim family perspective in a recent Topeka Capital Journal letter to the editor.

 

“…The wrongful conviction and imprisonment of Lamonte McIntyre is a sickening reminder of how our criminal justice system can be manipulated by one corrupt high-ranking police officer’s ulterior motives which, in combination with an unethical relationship during the trial, amounted to significant judicial misconduct.

 

There are many of us who have lost loved ones to murder and who oppose capital punishment if for no other reason than the fear of contributing to the execution of an innocent defendant….”

 

To read the full letter on the TCJ website click here.

 

Not in MY Name!

              Celeste Dixon was originally a weak supporter of the death penalty. She lost her mom, Marguerite, to murder in Texas. What kept her going after her mom’s death was the promise of a trial and that they were seeking the death penalty.   Celeste attended the trial every…

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