Before he was governor of the Great State of Kansas, Mark Parkinson worked in the state senate as a legislator, helping to draft the current law approving of capital punishment in that state.  Kansas’ death penalty statute was passed into law back in 1994.

However, it’s a new day and last Friday, another piece of legislation started making its way through the Kansas legislature — a law that would repeal the death penalty, and replace it with a crime of capital murder with aggravation, punishable by life without parole. 

Right now, this fledging has jumped its first hurdle.  The Kansas Senate’s Judiciary Committee endorsed the bill, and now it faces a vote by the entirety of the Kansas Senate.  Once that is achieved, it goes before the Kansas House — and assuming that it meets approval there, too, it goes over to the Governor’s desk.

That’s right:  Mark Parkinson, who helped write the death penalty law that is currently in effect, will have the final say on this recall of capital punishment. 

What are its chances?  Well, there’s some chatter that this proposal won’t make it through the House this year, because the Kansas House is dealing with a budget crisis where they’re short $400 million – and their new fiscal year starts July 1st.

Here’s a question for Kansas:  if you’re interested in budgeting, then why aren’t you connecting the COSTS of the death penalty with your budgetary crisis? 

According to the Death Penalty Information Center, a study was done in the early 2000s regarding the cost of the death penalty in Kansas.  While it might need to be updated, it’s important to note that it’s a definite budget issue here — and since Kansas has not executed anyone since the 1994 re-enactment of its death penalty law, all those appellate costs are ongoing.  (Ten men currently sit on Kansas’ Death Row.)  

According to the DPIC, summarizing the Kansas budgetary report:

… the State of Kansas concluded that capital cases are 70% more expensive than comparable non-death penalty cases. The study counted death penalty case costs through to execution and found that the median death penalty case costs $1.26 million. Non-death penalty cases were counted through to the end of incarceration and were found to have a median cost of $740,000. For death penalty cases, the pre-trial and trial level expenses were the most expensive part, 49% of the total cost. The costs of appeals were 29% of the total expense, and the incarceration and execution costs accounted for the remaining 22%. In comparison to non-death penalty cases. 

 In fact, costs is one of the main concerns of the state senator that drafted this bill and introduced it to the Kansas Judiciary Committee.  State Senator Carolyn McGinn used dollars and cents as one of her major arguments in repeal of the Kansas Death Penalty.

Let’s hope the Kansas House isn’t too busy panicing over a $400 million budget crisis that they don’t stop to consider Senator McGinn’s wisdom — and let’s hope that the Governor isn’t too set in his ways.