It’s a controversy that puts people’s lives at stake – the death penalty.
One man is pushing to get rid of the death penalty in Kansas, while a professor at Washburn University says we have one of the best systems in the country.
Bill Lucero believes actions speak louder than words.
“We’re trying to raise consciousness of Kansans across the state regarding the absolute absurdity of continuing the death penalty,” Lucero says.
His father was murdered 40 years ago, now Lucero is biking 100 miles to push legislators to repeal the death penalty law, which was reinstated nearly 20 years ago.
“It’s hurting murder victims’ families more than anything else,” he says.
13 people have been sentenced to death since 1994. The last execution dates back to 1965. The reason for the wait comes down to the way the system works.
“Kansas’ death penalty in the safeguards that it provides, in the way that it seeks to follow what the US supreme court has laid down as the things you need to do in the death penalty, I think Kansas has one of the best death penalties in the nation,” says Washburn Law Professor Jeffrey Jackson. He’s also a former death penalty advisor for the Kansas Supreme Court.
Jackson says while those safeguards mean potentially protecting the innocent, they also mean time and money.
“There are many, multiple layers of trial, appeals,” Jackson says about the lengthy process.
Because of that, Mary Sloan at the Kansas Coalition Against the Death Penalty says it is also costly.
“A death penalty case can cost about 70% more than a case in which the death penalty was not sought,” Sloan says.
Jackson doesn’t see any of those 13 men facing lethal injection anytime soon.
“We’re probably about 10 years out, mainly because the first few cases are just now reaching the point where the state is done with them,” Jackson says.
Lucero hopes 10 years from now, capital punishment will be long gone from the Sunflower State.
Jackson says Kansas has fewer inmates facing the death penalty than many other states because the law has specific restrictions on who can be sentenced for capital punishment.