|FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE|
DECEMBER 17, 2004
|CONTACT: The National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty
David Elliot, 202-543-9577, ext. 16
cell phone: 202-607-7036
Kansas Supreme Court Strikes Down Death Penalty
WASHINGTON -- December 17 -- The Kansas Supreme Court Friday struck down that states death penalty law, making 14 states free of capital punishment, the National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty said today. Earlier this year, a New York state court took similar action. Kansas and New York are the two most recent states to reinstate the death penalty, with Kansas reinstating it in 1994 and New York in 1995. Neither state has executed anyone since reinstatement. Todays ruling vacates all six death sentences in Kansas. Todays development should not surprise anyone, said NCADP Executive Director Diann Rust-Tierney. Our experience in looking at the death penalty teaches us that it is exceedingly difficult to craft a system that is both procedurally fair and mistake-free. Without the death penalty, we hope Kansas will be able to focus its resources on providing more support for crime victims as well as crime prevention efforts.
The Kansas Supreme Court struck down the states death penalty law on a 4-3 vote because it said the law gave the state an unfair advantage over defendants during the sentencing process. Rust-Tierney noted that Kansas has a history of antipathy toward the death penalty; the state abolished capital punishment in 1907, brought it back in 1935 and then observed a moratorium in the late 1950s and early 1960s, when the Republican governor at the time said, I just dont like killing people. One year ago, Kansas officials released a cost study that showed the states death penalty system costs approximately 70 percent more than comparable non-death penalty cases. The study found that the median cost of a death penalty trial and appeals was $1.26 million while non-death penalty cases cost a median of $740,000.
The National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty was founded in 1976 and is the only fully-staffed national organization devoted specifically to abolishing the death penalty. NCADP is comprised of more than 100 local, state, national and international affiliates.