Thank you to everyone who came yesterday to the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on the death penalty and invited others to attend. We had a great turnout from KCADP’s membership! Now we’re turning our attention to another critical hearing this coming week.
On Tuesday, January 21, the Senate Judiciary Committee will consider the death penalty again at a hearing on SB 257. This bill is a dangerous proposal that could threaten innocent life by limiting the appeals and safeguards in capital cases. If you can make it, please come to this hearing and show your opposition to this bill:
- WHAT: Senate Judiciary Committee Hearing on death penalty
- WHEN: Tuesday, January 21, 10:30am
- WHERE: Room 346S at the Capitol, 300 SW 10th Ave., Topeka
Now is an important time to call Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Jeff King at 785-296-7361 and urge him to OPPOSE SB 257 (you also can email him at Jeff.King@senate.ks.gov). In addition, click here to see if your senator sits on this committee and, if so, contact them too.
Here are some of the major flaws with SB 257 to share Sen. King:
- Making other criminal cases languish in the criminal justice system is no way to fix the death penalty. Under SB 257, appeals in all cases must wait in line behind death penalty cases to receive their day in court. As a result, this proposal delays finality to victims of rapes, non-capital homicides, kidnappings, and other serious crimes. Also, individuals wrongfully convicted of non-capital crimes will spend more time in jail as their appeals are delayed.
- The burden for proving innocence is unreasonably high. Unless a defendant proves by “clear and convincing evidence” his or her innocence, a court cannot grant relief and stop an execution according to SB 257. Meeting this high standard is difficult in court, especially in cases that lack DNA evidence. So even if it is more than likely that a defendant is innocent, that is not sufficient for a court to stop an execution.
- Shortening appeals is dangerous given how long it often takes for evidence of innocence to emerge. SB 257 puts forward a number of provisions that would limit the time available for appeals in capital cases. These changes significantly raise the risk of executing an innocent person. Of the 143 individuals sentenced to death and later exonerated in the US since 1973, it took on average over 10 years for them to prove their innocence, and in some cases the wait was 20 or 30 years.
Please contact Sen. King at 785-296-7361 and urge him to oppose SB 257. Now is not the time for Kansas to pass legislation that likely will have the effect of threatening innocent life.
KCADP Executive Director