Thursday, June 02, 2005

Kansas and the death penalty

So the other day the U.S. Supreme Court announced it will review the constitutionality of Kansas' death penalty statute. This is not necessarily good for my side. After all, the Kansas Supreme Court declared the Kansas statute to be unconstitutional on a 4-3 vote; the state appealed and the U.S. Supreme Court agreed to hear the appeal -- meaning that there are at least four justices who may want to overturn the lower court's decision and uphold the constitutionality of the Kansas statute.

But enough legal mumbo-jumbo. That's not what this blog does. That's not what this blog is good at.

What we want to point out, right hear, right now, is that some people in Kansas are changing their minds on this issue. Like the tiny Iola Register, which used to be in favor of the death penalty. Yesterday, the Register wrote the following:

The death penalty here and in most other states is rarely imposed without
a horrendously expensive delay of 10 years or more. Not only does the seemingly endless appeals process cost a state $1 million or more, the trials which produce death penalties cost much more than those that impose an alternative sentence such as life imprisonment without chance of parole.

Death penalty trials cost so much because execution is final, so every effort must be made to give the defendant the fairest possible treatment. That bending-over-backward means hiring top- flight defense attorneys and expert witnesses as well as bringing in witnesses from wherever those high-priced attorneys can find them.

Then, if a conviction is won and the death sentence pronounced, the appeals begin and the state's taxpayers are again presented with bills that run into six figures.

If individual rights are the crowning glory of the American republic, they also make it impossible for a state to impose the death penalty on the most vicious murderer imaginable swiftly or with reasonable economy. Justice delayed, the maxim goes, is justice denied. By the time a killer is killed by the state his crime or crimes have faded from the public's mind and no lessons to others are taught.

The editorial is mostly on mark. However, its phrase "...every effort must be made to give the defendant the fairest possible treatment" may well apply to Kansas, but does not apply to Texas or a swath of states mainly across the Deep South (but also Virginia, Pennsylvania and Ohio). To read the entire piece, go here.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

The death penalty is the most effective way to commit capital punishmen