Human rights advocates have expressed concerns about the appropriateness of the death penalty as it is applied here in the USA. My home state of Kansas is one of 35 states that have the death penalty; 15 states and the District of Columbia do not. The federal government, both civilian and military, also allows for capital punishment.
On June 29, 1972, the United States Supreme Court, in Furman vs. Georgia, struck down the death penalty because it could not agree on how the punishment could be carried out fairly and humanely. That case voided death penalty laws in 40 states, including Kansas, and commuted the sentences of 629 individuals on death rows. It took Kansas 18 years to enact a new death penalty law, which was passed on April 23, 1994. There have been no executions in Kansas since the law went into effect on July 1, 1994.
In October 2009, a historic decision was made by the American Law Institute (ALI) to remove the death penalty from its Model Penal Code.
Recently I participated in advocating for the abolition of the Death Penalty in the State of Kansas in support of Kansas Senate bill SB 375. There was a heated and stirring debate bringing up issues on both sides of this contentious issue in this predominately conservative state. On Feb. 19, 2010 from the gallery, I watched as the leaders of my state congress took the floor, one of them my own elected representative, Kansas State Senator Marci Francisco.
Since 1994 there have been more than 100 potential capital cases in Kansas, 25 capital trials ending in death sentences for twelve of those cases. As the discussion came to a vote on the floor, there were persons on both sides of this issue who spoke passionately about their conviction either for or against the death penalty.