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Death Penalty Opponents Renew Repeal Push In Kansas

Stephen Koranda
Kansas Public Radio
Celeste Dixon speaking at the Kansas Statehouse.

Opponents of the death penalty are making a new push to repeal capital punishment in Kansas. They hope the crop of new lawmakers could give repeal efforts a new chance. They made their arguments on Monday at the Statehouse.

Celeste Dixon’s mother was murdered in Texas, and her killer was executed. Dixon, who lives in Larned, says she used to support the death penalty, but she now believes the money spent on Kansas death row cases could be better used in other law enforcement.

“To me, capital punishment is not helpful as a victim’s family member. It feels more like revenge than justice,” Dixon says.

Others brought up fairness concerns and possible wrongful convictions.

Amy James sees the issue differently. She was dating one of the people murdered by the Carr brothers in Wichita in 2000. James says the change could bring up legal issues in past cases and she notes that death sentences are rare.

“Kansas’ law is very conservative, and it is only used in the very most heinous of crimes,” James says.

Efforts to repeal the death penalty have stalled in recent years.

Kansas reinstated the death penalty in the 1990s, but as of yet, no executions have been carried out. Currently, 10 men sit on Kansas death row.

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.