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Kansas Death Penalty Opponents Heartened By Pope’s Comments

Mark Wilson
Getty Images

Opponents of the death penalty in Kansas are hoping the pope’s words can spur some action on the issue. Pope Francis called for ending capital punishment during a speech before a joint session of Congress Thursday.

Mary Sloan, with the Kansas Coalition Against the Death Penalty, had hoped Pope Francis would talk about the issue during his visit to the U.S., and she’s especially pleased it came during his high-profile speech.

“I think he’s a great source of inspiration and leadership. I do think it puts it on the public agenda, makes it something that people will talk about and consider,” Sloan says.

Opponents of the death penalty haven’t made much headway in the Kansas Statehouse in recent years. Sloan is hoping they’ll be energized by the pope’s comments.

“I hope that they will all be inspired that now is the time to make this happen in Kansas,” Sloan says.

Sloan hopes the issue will get a hearing next year. Kansas reinstated the death penalty in the 1990s, but no executions have been carried out since then.

An earlier version of this story aired Thursday during All Things Considered.

Stephen Koranda is Statehouse reporter for Kansas Public Radio and the Kansas News Service, a collaboration of KCUR, KMUW, Kansas Public Radio and High Plains Radio covering health, education and politics.