TOPEKA — Lawmakers, experts in law and corrections, and those with direct personal experience with the death penalty testified on Monday in support of HB 2167, which would repeal the Kansas death penalty and replace it life in prison without any possibility of parole. The hearing on HB 2167 was scheduled for 1:15 p.m. in the House Corrections and Juvenile Justice Committee.
Those testifying in favor HB 2167 included:
• Celeste Dixon of Larned, whose mother’s murder resulted in an execution
• Director of the Midwest Innocence Project Tricia Bushnell
• Republican State Representative Bill Sutton
• Former Kansas Secretary of Corrections Roger Werholtz
The Kansas Coalition Against the Death Penalty noted that Dixon changed her mind on the death penalty after her mother’s murder and seeing how the penalty works in practice.
“My experience has made clear to me that the death penalty does not provide any finality or closure to murder victims’ families,” Dixon said. “The uncertain process of waiting and repeatedly reliving the crime through lengthy trials and appeals can put murder victims’ families through hell.”
According to the KCADP, HB 2167 enjoys strong bipartisan support, with eight Republican cosponsors and seven Democratic cosponsors in the Kansas House. Rep. Sutton is one of those sponsors.
“For me, there’s no contradiction between my conservative values and sponsoring legislation to replace the death penalty with life in prison without parole,” said Sutton. “I support this bill because of my commitment to the conservative principles of fiscal responsibility and promoting a culture of life.”