Don’t put a price on justice, death penalty supporters say

The death penalty should not be evaluated based on its cost, opponents to a bill that would abolish the punishment in Kansas argued on Friday.

“You can’t put a price on justice,” assistant solicitor general Kristafer Ailslieger told the Senate Judiciary Committee during a second day of hearings.

Ailslieger, speaking for the Kansas Attorney General’s office, also said that the savings supporters of Senate Bill 208tout are based on estimates not hard numbers.

The bill would abolish the death penalty as of July 1, although people sentenced before that date could still be sent to death row.

The proposal is the brain child of Sen. Carolyn McGinn, R-Sedgwick, who has said that with the state in a budget crunch all cost saving measures must be considered.

Kansas reinstated the death penalty in 1994, since then 12 men have been sentenced to death. Currently, 10 men are on death row and no one has been executed in the state since 1965.

Supporters of the bill argued on Thursday, that the death penalty did not deter crime and was costly. The money could be better spent preventing crimes or improving public safety, they argued.

Committee Chairman Sen. Tim Owens, R-Overland Park, said he planned for the committee to vote Wednesday if it would send the bill to the full Senate for consideration.