Hearing For Bill To Speed Up Death Penalty Appeals

A proposal to speed up death penalty appeals is Kansas is before a House committee.

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Wichita, KAN. -- A hearing took place Wednesday in the Kansas legislature on a bill to speed up the process of executing guilty criminals.

Senate Bill 257 is now in the Kansas house. It's the first change in the death penalty appeals process since it was re-instated in Kansas in 1994.

The measure creates a three year and six month time limit for the appeals process to be heard and decided by the court. The bill also sets limits on the length of documents that can be filed and requires the death penalty appeals to be placed ahead of all other pending cases before the justices.

No one has been executed in Kansas since 1965. There are nine men on death row. Two of them are the Carr Brothers, convicted of killing four people in 2000.

Former Sedgwick County District Attorney Nola Foulston, who prosecuted the brothers, says the proposed law is needed. "I look at it and say Bravo", said Foulston. "It's about time somebody got their act together and decided there should be limitations, and the cases should be expedited, and you can have your day in court."

Foulston said the bill is patterned after a federal law, The Antiterrorism And Effective Death Penalty Act. She said a death penalty case she tried a dozen years ago shouldn't be mired in the appeals process.

Opponents to the bill call it a leaky Band-Aid on a broken system. The Kansas Coalition Against the Death Penalty said the changes would increase the chances of an innocent person being executed.

The House Corrections and Juvenile Justice Committee did not take any action Wednesday. The bill has been assigned to a conference committee of three House and three Senate members to negotiate an agreement on the bill that originated in the Senate.

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