Death Penalty Abolition Bill Nearing a Vote in Kansas

The Senate Judiciary Committee in Kansas recently advanced (7-4) legislation that would eliminate capital punishment in the state and replace it with a sentence of life without parole. Kansas enacted its current death penalty law in 1994, but has not executed anyone for more than 40 years. There are currently ten men on the state’s death row, though none are close to execution. The abolition legislation, which was originally introduced by Republican Sen. Carolyn McGinn to address the high costs of capital punishment, would only apply to future cases. Senator Tim Owens, chair of the Judiciary Committee, spoke of the bill’s importance, “This is truly life and death that we’re talking about. We need to have a vote.” On January 29th, the 149th anniversary of Kansas joining the union as a free state, Senator David Haley (Kansas City-D) remarked in support of abolition, “I’m reminded of what Kansas is, and what we stand for. We have values in this chamber, and as a state, that I hope we live up to.” The bill may be voted on by the full Senate soon.

(D. Klepper, “Death penalty repeal advances in KS,” Kansas City Star, January 29, 2010). Read more Recent Legislative Activity. At least five states are considering bills to abolish the death penalty in 2010: Kansas, Kentucky, Nebraska, South Dakota and Washington. New Hampshire has a legislative commission considering abolition.