An opinion piece in the October 21, 2009, issue of the Wichita Eagle was titled “reasons to rethink the death penalty. ” The article stated that Kansas “does not have a death penalty in practice, although capital punishment has been back on the books in Kansas since 1994 and there currently are nine men on death row. Each complex phase of each case seems to churn up new legal questions, leading to more delays in realizing lawmakers’ goal of making execution available for the ‘worst of the worst’ criminals in Kansas.
“Especially each time another heinous murder occurs — and they show no signs of ceasing, death penalty law and all — Kansans on either side of capital punishment find common ground in wondering what purpose the death penalty is serving, except to consume tax dollars. A 2003 study indicated that Kansas’ capital cases cost 70 percent more than noncapital cases.”
“The realization that dollars being spent on death penalty cases might be better used, especially during this budget crisis, was part of what inspired state Sen. Carolyn McGinn, R-Sedgwick, to introduce a death penalty repeal during the past session. That bill deserves a second look.”
The Eagle cited a new national survey by the nonprofit Death Penalty Information Center, titled “Smart on Crime: Reconsidering the Death Penalty in a Time of Economic Crisis,” which raises more cost-benefit questions about capital punishment. Among its valuable findings — that police chiefs would rather see more resources spent hiring law enforcement officers and countering drug and alcohol abuse.
The paper’s conclusion was that “Kansas should not let another 15 years go by — and more millions of dollars go by the wayside — before it seriously reassesses whether its death penalty is worth having.” You can read the full editorial here.