Tuesday, 13 February 2007

Kansans opt against death penalty

Kansans opt against death penalty

By Scott Rothschild (Contact)
Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Topeka — Death penalty opponents Monday released a poll showing most Kansans prefer alternatives to capital punishment.
But a spokesman for the Kansas Coalition Against the Death Penalty said he expects it will take a long time to persuade legislators to abolish the death penalty.

“We’ve been at this a long time,” said Ben Coats. “If this takes as long as I’ve got, I’m going to continue doing it.”

The poll of 500 frequent Kansas voters showed that nearly two-thirds would prefer a sentence of life in prison without parole, in which the inmate would work in prison to pay restitution to victims’ families.

“There is not an overwhelming support for the death penalty where there is an alternative available,” Coats said.

The poll also found that many Kansans thought capital punishment was handed out unfairly.
Fifty-seven percent of those responding believe that some people are executed while others serve prison terms for the same type of offense.

Even so, Sen. John Vratil, R-Leawood and chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, said there probably would be no movement during the current session on a bill to abolish the death penalty.

“No one has come to me and asked for a hearing on the bill,” Vratil said.

The poll was conducted Jan. 20-21 by Jayhawk Consulting Service. The survey has a margin of error of plus or minus 4 percent.

The poll also showed that many Kansans were unfamiliar with alternatives to the death penalty already in state law, such as the sentence of 50 years in prison without the possibility of parole.
Kansas has gone back and forth on the death penalty. It was repealed in 1907, reinstated in 1935, repealed again in 1972 and reinstated again in 1994.

Since the death penalty was last reinstated in Kansas, 10 people have been sentenced to death, but none has been executed. One sentence was removed by the prosecutor’s request, and two have been vacated by the Kansas Supreme Court.

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