Category Archives: news

Kansas’ Undesired Silver Anniversary

 

 

 

 

On July 1st, Kansas began year twenty five of the death penalty law in Kansas.  July is also a month ripe with candidate campaigns——campaign events, phone calling, door knocking, mailings, and candidates present at parades and debates.

 

KCADP has begun its formal candidate education process by reaching out to legislative candidates.  We want to make sure they know:

  • There are Kansas murder victim families who advocate for alternatives to the death penalty
  • In capital cases where the death penalty is sought, defense and district court costs are 3 to 4 times higher than in similar cases where the death penalty isn’t being sought.  Prosecutors won’t tell you how much more they spend but they have been before county commissions asking for additional money for capital cases.
  • Kansas has serious enough problems with wrongful conviction that Gov. Colyer signed HB 2579.  This legislation was passed this spring to compensate people who are innocent and sent to prison.

 

A number of the candidates have written back in response to our educational piece, including some who are asking for more dialogue.  That is exciting and we are following up.  There is more work to be done.

 

Ending the Kansas death penalty takes ALL of us—-board members and KCADP general members alike.  Which candidates might benefit from you speaking with them about why you think Kansas should end the death penalty?  Could your voice be one that makes a difference in the position of a 2019 session legislator?

 

 

Abolition is a Non-Partisan Issue

 

Many Kansans used to think that a politician’s stance on abolition could be predicted by what party he or she was representing. The 2010 Senate vote showed the fallacy of that belief. Twelve Republicans and eight Democrats supported abolition, and nineteen Republicans and one Democrat opposed it. The most recent abolition bill, HB 2167, introduced in 2017, continued the non-partisan tradition with eight Republicans and seven Democrats sponsoring.

 

We saw further evidence of this non-partisan reality this spring when KCADP was invited to speak at the Libertarian Party of Kansas state convention. On April 21st, Ron Wurtz spoke with conference participants about death penalty abolition. The Libertarians have death penalty abolition as part of their platform, and they became an abolition endorsing group here in Kansas several years ago.

 

The rise of support by conservatives in Kansas and elsewhere for death penalty abolition has been seen in our own work as well as the formation of the national group Conservatives Concerned About the Death Penalty.   Click here to learn more about why conservatives are supporting abolition.

 

Death penalty abolition is not a one party position. So, as candidates travel through the state, please engage with them about why you support ending the death penalty. Your earnest conversation with them about why abolition makes sense could be the spark they need to either further solidify their own support for abolition OR the spark needed to get them to consider supporting abolition!

 

It’s “Candidate” Season!

 

When we look outside, we see that the seasons are changing.  Trees are leafing out, spring flowers are blooming and lawns too are growing.

 

It’s a season of political changes too.  The Legislature has ended and the next season—Candidate season—is already evident too.  

 

In the elections this year Kansans will choose new statewide leaders as well as new members for the House of Representatives.  Candidates have until 12 noon on June 1st to file for the primary election cycle.  A review of the current candidate list shows that 2018 may well be a time of serious campaign activity in Kansas.  Already there are PRIMARY challenges in 17 districts where at least 2 Republicans or 2 Democrats are seeking the same seat.  

 

The work of abolition does not stop when we enter “Candidate season”.  KCADP does not engage in partisan activity so we don’t endorse or give campaign donations.  What we do is educate and dialogue.  We will be doing work from our end to make sure that candidates have up to date information on the death penalty so that they are informed candidates.

 

We need our members to do education and dialogue too. When candidates come knocking at your door, engage with them about why you oppose the death penalty.  It’s important they hear from you, while on the campaign trail, that support for abolition exists in the district the candidate hopes to represent.

 

Let us know if you need additional information as “Candidate season” moves forward.  We can be reached by email via infoatksabolitiondotorg or by phone at 785-235-2237.   And by all means, let us know what you are hearing from the candidates seeking your vote!

 

“What I saw set my soul on fire…”

Sr. Helen and Jayhawks for Life leaders

“They killed a man with fire one night. They strapped him in a wooden chair and pumped electricity through his body until he was dead.” …I was there. I saw it with my own eyes. What I saw set my soul on fire, a fire that burns me still. And now here is an account of how I came to be and still am.”   (Sr. Helen Prejean)

 

Sr. Helen shared first hand accounts at KU on March 5th of her journeys with murder victim families, inmates, and corrections professionals and the reality of the death penalty.  “There’s nothing like being close to the fire” she said in describing how proximity to capital punishment’s actual process teaches a person about the impact it has on everyone it touches.

 

Sr. Helen encouraged the many young adults in the audience to continue learning and dialoguing about the death penalty because they can make a difference in political dialogue.  That is especially true in places like Kansas where the death penalty is on the books but isn’t being used.  She noted the momentum building in Kansas for abolition and encouraged those in attendance to become more involved in the abolition effort.

 

The inspiring event was organized by the KU Jayhawks for Life organization.

 

To learn more about Sr. Helen’s excellent presentation, click here for the coverage in the University Daily Kansan.

 

 

‘Dead Man Walking: The Journey Continues”

Sr. Helen Prejean is coming to Kansas!

 

Monday March 5th at 7 p.m.

 

Woodruff Auditorium in the Memorial Union on the KU Campus in Lawrence

 

Jayhawks for Life is sponsoring this event which is free and open to the public.  This is a great opportunity to hear such an inspiring speaker!

 

 

photo credit:  Scott Langley

 

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

 

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.

 

2017 Nominee Slate Announced

 

The Nominee Slate for this year’s annual meeting has been announced.

 

Officer Nominees term ending 2019:

Donna Schneweis – Chair
Robert Sanders- Secretary

 

Board of Directors term ending 2019:

Current directors:

Sister Therese Bangert
LaGretia Copp
Dalton Glasscock

New director:

Micah Kubic

 

Elections will take place at 1 p.m. on Saturday October 21st  at the Conference in McPherson.

 

Register today for the 2017 Abolition Conference!

Flyer 2017 Final

 

Join us at this informative conference!

Register today by emailing infoatksabolitiondotorg or by leaving a message at 785-235-2237.

The Kansas Death Penalty: What a Waste, 2017!

 

Join us in McPherson on Saturday Oct 21st for our annual meeting and abolition Conference!

 

Speakers include:

Roger Werholtz, retired Secretary of Kansas Department of Corrections

Celeste Dixon, murder victim family member

Carolyn McGinn, Kansas Senator, Chair of Senate Ways and Means

 

Time is 1:00 to 3:30 p.m.

Location is McPherson Church of the Brethren,  200 North Carrie.

 

This event is free and open to the public.

 

To register contact KCADP by email at infoatksabolitiondotorg or by calling 785-235-2237 and give us your name and address.  We hope you can join us!