Archive for Thursday, December 15, 2005

Abolish the death penalty

December 15, 2005

To the editor:

Now that the United States has carried out the 1,000th execution since the death penalty was reinstated in 1976, it is time for the people and leaders of this country to open their eyes and realize that the death penalty has no place in our modern society.

Many organizations of victims' family members, such as Murder Victims' Families for Human Rights, are saying that the death penalty offers them nothing. Leaders from nearly every religious denomination in the country have called for a halt to executions because the death penalty remains gravely inconsistent. The Catholic Church has embarked on a national campaign to end the death penalty, and other denominations are increasing their efforts, as well.

By conservative measures, these 1,000 executions have cost the country more than $2 billion. In Kansas, a 2003 report by the Legislative Division of Post Audit found a death penalty case is approximately 70 percent more expensive than a similar case in which the death penalty is not sought. With the United States facing serious financial challenges, these resources would be better spent on programs to prevent crimes, such as improving education and putting more law enforcement officers on our streets.

Now, when this milestone of the 1,000th execution has been reached, it is an appropriate time for all states that maintain the death penalty to follow the example of New York and that of other states before it. In 2004, New York legislators and members of the public examined the death penalty closely and discovered that it could never work accurately to serve any legitimate purpose. The United States as a whole should do the same and thereby permanently abolish the death penalty.

Jeffrey Wicks

Kansas Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers Death Penalty Committee Chair Wichita

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