Kansas introduces bill to abolish death penalty
By Bonnie Toombs and Ben Jefferies
The Kansas House of Representatives has introduced HB 2323, a bill to abolish the state’s death penalty, replacing it with life in prison without parole as the sentence for the crime of aggravated murder.
Last year, the Kansas Senate came within one vote of approving legislation that would have repealed capital punishment in the state.
The Kansas bishops support repeal saying that capital punishment is not necessary to keep society safe in modern industrialized societies.
In a 2010 statement supporting abolition of the death penalty, the four Kansas Catholic bishops, along with the four visions of the Episcopal, Lutheran and Methodist churches stated: “Our Churches’ official teachings are united in teaching that capital punishment should no longer be practiced or threatened. We are convinced that human life is sacred to God and should be respected by all humankind, including governments. . .”
During his 1999 visit to St. Louis, Pope John Paul II proclaimed, “The new evangelization calls for followers of Christ who are unconditionally pro-life; who will proclaim, celebrate and serve the Gospel of life in every situation.”
He continued, “A sign of hope is the increasing recognition that the dignity of human life must never be taken away, even in the case of someone who has done great evil.”
During the Pope’s visit to Missouri a death row inmate named Darrel Mease was scheduled to be executed. The Holy Father requested that then-governor Mel Carnahan commute Mease’s sentence to life without parole. The governor did.
The Catholic Church has been an integral part of the effort to abolish the death penalty in this country through policy advocacy both at the federal and state level, ministry in prisons and on death row, and through education of parishioners about how the death penalty plays out across this nation.
Toombs is director of the diocesan Respect Life and Social Justice Office. Jefferies is with the Kansas Coalition Against the Death Penalty.
Want to help stop capital
punishment in Kansas?
Write, call or email your representative and senator. Tell them that you support repeal of the death penalty and ask them to support HB 2323.
• Capitol Address: 300 SW 10th Ave., Topeka, KS 66612
• Legislative Hotline (800) 432-3924. Call for help in identifying your Legislators or leave a message for a legislator to call you
• Email at www.kslegislature.org/li/ and search for your legislator by name.
• Call the Governor’s Office at 800-748-4408 ask him to support HB 2323
• Visit www.ksconf.org - Kansas Catholic Conference - and click on Capital Punishment.