Legislators propose doing away with death penalty

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A group of 32 bipartisan representatives came together to make sure the state doesn’t have the chance to use the death penalty anymore.

Kansas hasn’t had a person put to death in 54 years, but legislators proposed a bill that would make sure it wouldn’t happen in the future.

On Tuesday, lawmakers on the Corrections and Juvenile Justice Committee heard personal stories from those for and against the death penalty. 

“Violence is not a solution to violence,” said Therese Bangert, a sister of Charity of Leavenworth.

Others disagreed.

“Every single time that it comes up if you’re one of those homicide survivors if you’re a family member that survived your loved ones’ homicide, today’s just like that day all over again,” said Greg Smith, who is for keeping the death penalty.

Kansas currently has 10 people on death row.

Greg Smith’s daughter Kelsey was murdered in 2007. Her killer didn’t get a death sentence.

“I believe in proportionality in the crime,” said Smith. “Nobody asked Kelsey if it was okay to be murdered, nobody asked Kelsey if it was okay to be raped, nobody asked Kelsey if it was okay to be kidnapped, yet we worry about this other person that committed all these acts.”

Sister Bangert said she has heard from many other murder victim’s families about their positive healing process.

“The most powerful people who taught me about the need for forgiveness and accepting the abundance of God’s mercy are the murder victim’s families who say we are not for the death penalty.”

Kansas would be the 21st state to abolish the death penalty.

If passed the bill would go into effect July 1, and no one in Kansas would be sentenced to death for committing a crime after that day. The 10 people on death row would not be affected.

Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt said the bill should not be passed.

Abolishing the death penalty bills have been raised during many past legislative sessions and have failed to gain the necessary votes.

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