Bill would abolish Kansas death penalty

TOPEKA | A state lawmaker wants to see the Kansas death penalty abolished to help close the state's projected budget shortfall of $199 million.

State Sen. Caroline McGinn introduced the bill, saying lawmakers "need to be thinking out of the box" to save money. The Sedgwick Republican said the death penalty hasn't proven to be a deterrent to crime, and there's always the risk of executing an innocent person.

The Senate Judiciary Committee has scheduled hearings Feb. 26-27 on the bill that says nobody could be sentenced to death after July 1.

Death penalty foes on Thursday said that given the current budget problems, executions are too expensive and unnecessary because Kansas has an alternative -- life in prison without parole.

In a 2003 state audit of 22 first-degree murder cases found that the median cost for those leading to the death penalty was $1.2 million. That compared with $740,000 for the median non-death penalty cases reviewed.