Concerns about the death penalty as an effective public policy continue to persist in the wake of the 2014 annual report released by the Death Penalty Information Center, available at www.deathpenaltyinfo.org/YearEnd2014. The report reflects concerns voiced by Kansas voters in a recent poll including questions of innocence and the high cost of death penalty cases.
Seven people were exonerated from death row across the country in 2014, highlighting the risk of wrongful convictions in capital cases. In six of those cases, the exonerations took 30 years or longer.
Multiple reports from the Kansas Judicial Council support results of national studies that demonstrate the high cost to pursue death as a penalty, up to four times the cost of non death penalty cases.
There were no death sentences imposed in Kansas in 2014. Nationwide, there were 72 new death sentences, a 40-year low.
The last execution in Kansas was in 1965, and Kansas has had no executions since the death penalty was reinstated in 1994. Nationwide, 35 executions were carried out in 2014, the lowest number in 20 years. Only seven states had any executions, with Texas, Missouri, and Florida responsible for the vast majority, or 83 percent.
“While use of the death penalty has decreased nationwide, it has never been shown to be an effective public safety policy in Kansas,” said Mary Sloan, Executive Director of Kansas Coalition Against the Death Penalty. “It is time for Kansas to take up the question of whether we really need capital punishment, and consider repealing this costly, error-prone system.”