State Lawmakers To Debate Keeping Death Penalty

By: Natasha Trelfa Email
By: Natasha Trelfa Email

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Kansas Senator Carolynn McGinn thinks the death penalty is too expensive, especially right now. The Attorney General, however, says it's a law the state has learned to balance and the Thurber case is a perfect example of how efficient the process can be.

"Capital murder cases are the most intensive cases," says Attorney General Stephen Six. "They take the most resources."

"We have the ability today to lock folks up for the rest of their lives," said Sen. Carolynn McGinn, (R), Sedgwick.

With the penalty phase set to begin in the capital murder case of Thurber, found guilty of killing Ark City teen Jodi Sanderholm and who could face the death penalty, state lawmakers prepare to discuss whether or not the death penalty should remain on the books in Kansas.

"The death penalty currently costs 70 to 80 percent more than non-death penalty cases," McGinn claims.

McGinn introduced a bill that would abolish the death penalty. Nobody has been put to death since the law was reinstated in 1994. It was taken off the books in the 1970's. With the state facing a nearly $200 million shortfall, McGinn says cutting the death penalty would save money while still serving justice.

"The fact that we have life without parole now, is very important because we can still protect society from individuals that commit such heinous crimes," said McGinn.

Attorney General Steve Six said removing the death penalty isn't the answer and he said the Thurber case is an example of how efficient the process can be.

"The death penalty structure we have is a responsible one and I think one that is supported well by law enforcement," said Six.

For now, both sides say their main concern is keeping Kansans safe.

"We want to make sure we have laws on the books that provide citizens safety from people that can be harmful to society," said McGinn.

"The big concern for me is one the law enforcement, public safety side, there are some things you just can't cut," said Six.

The bill would prevent anyone from being sentenced to death after July 1st. The bill will head to the judiciary committee for hearings on the 26th and 27th of this month.

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