McGinn’s death penalty opposition garners national attention

TOPEKA – Sen. Carolyn McGinn’s effort to abolish the death penalty to save money for cash-strapped Kansas is garnering national attention.

The Sedgwick Republican was interviewed Thursday for a segment that is scheduled to run 5:30 p.m. Friday on the World News with Charlie Gibson, she said.

McGinn’s Senate Bill 208 would abolish the death penalty for cases sentenced after July 1.

Kansas is one of eight states considering such a measure. While the state reinstituted the death penalty in 1994, no one has been executed since 1965.

The Senate Judiciary Committee held its first day of hearings on the measure Thursday and will hear more testimony Friday and could vote on sending the bill to the full Senate for debate.

Supporters of the bill say evidence shows death penalty cases are costly to prosecute and do not deter crime. Opponents say the state should retain the option of a death penalty case for the most heinous crimes.

With 42 states facing deficits in their upcoming budgets, more lawmakers are looking for ways to save money. Kansas could be $1 billion in the red for the 2010 budget year which starts July 1.

“People are starting to dig deep into the budget to see what laws we have on the book and are they doing what we set out to do,” McGinn said.