In the report, released December 19, 2003, the Division of Legislative Post Audit reported that the average cost of a death penalty case is 70% more than that of a non death penalty homicide case. This study compared the cost of a case taken to execution and a case taken to through decades of incarceration to the end of a prison sentence.
This added cost of a death penalty law brings with it no benefit to society. We are not safer as we can see by the many homicides that have occurred in our state since the law was reinstated.
Since Kansas reinstated the death penalty in 1994, there have been over 80 potentially capital cases. Capital charges have been filed in over 50 cases in 18 counties. There have been 15 trials. Seven men have been sentenced to death.
In these cases with actual capital charges, there have been the following problems:
1) Flaw in the Law causing Reversals of Death Sentence: In the very first case to reach the State Supreme Court, the Court invalidated the death sentence of Gary Kleypas and remanded his case back to Crawford Co. for resentencing. The reason for the Court’s decision was a flaw in the law, a flaw that will send back at least the next 3 cases also. Thus, over 50% of our current death sentenced cases will already have been remanded for a new sentencing hearing.
2) Capital Lottery: There appears to be geographic disparity in how cases are handled. The two counties with the most capital cases are Sedgwick and Wyandotte. Sedgwick has filed 9 cases and Wyandotte has filed 15 capital cases. Sedgwick has taken 6 cases to trial, while Wyandotte has only taken 3 as of January 1, 2004.
3) Information Withheld from Juries: When a jury is faced with the penalty phase decision of life or death, there is no provision in the Kansas law to require their instruction automatically on what the non death sentence terms would be in the given case. In the Kleypas case the Kansas Supreme Court said “In the absence of a request, the trial court has no duty to inform the jury in a capital-murder case of the term of imprisonment to which a defendant would be sentenced if death were not imposed.” <u>State v. Kleypas</u>, 272 Kan. 1081, 40 P.3d 139, 270 (2001).
4) Finances Impact Prosecutor Decisions: The Great Bend Tribune reported in July 1998 that finances were a factor in the decision of the Ellsworth County Attorney to not seek capital charges in a case there.
5) Misconduct by Prosecutor and Jury: In the 15 cases that have gone to trial, the Courts have found prosecutorial misconduct and juror misconduct. The prosecutorial misconduct was found by the State Supreme Court in the Kleypas case. Juror misconduct was found in the case of Gavin Scott (Sedgwick Co.) by the trial judge.
All these facts call for the abolition of the death penalty in Kansas!