Schreiber introduces bill to replace death penalty Featured

60th District Representative Mark Schreiber 60th District Representative Mark Schreiber Official photo

60th District Representative Mark Schreiber of Emporia has introduced a bill that would eliminate the state's death penalty.

It's not the first time Schreiber has proposed replacing the death penalty with life in prison without parole. He says appeal costs and occasional sentencing mistakes have given him pause for continuing the death penalty.

Schreiber's plan would not impact people already on death row unless it's changed later. He does not expect additional discussions on inmate housing or adjustments in the state's legal code as a result of this bill if it moves ahead.

76th District Representative Eric Smith of Burlington, who also serves as Coffey County's undersheriff, says he will not support the bill. He says the death penalty "has long stood as humanity's ultimate penalty for thoe who violate the conscience" and those who take innocent lives in the most unconscionable, heinous or tortuous ways must be held accountable. On KVOE's Monday version of Talk of Emporia, Lyon County Attorney Marc Goodman agreed with Smith.

51st District Representative Ron Highland of Wamego says the presence of the death penalty "serves the individual and the state," adding people oppose the death penalty on general terms but the penalty allows plea negotiations to take place.

The website says Kansas had no death penalty from 1972 to 1994, but there hasn't been an execution since 1965. There are currently 10 people on death row, including Scott Cheever for the murder of Greenwood County Sheriff Matt Samuels in January 2005; James Kahler for the murders of several family members in November 2009; and Kyle Flack for the murders of a mother and daughter from rural Ottawa in 2013. The daughter was found in Osage County, while Flack was arrested in Emporia.

Schreiber does not anticipate a committee hearing this year, but he says one is possible next year. Click here for a link to HB 2300.

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