State capitals are buzzing as lawmakers return for this year’s state legislative sessions. It’s no surprise that the death penalty is on the agenda in so many places, given the growing movement away from executions.
There has long been strong support for death penalty repeal in Kansas, but due to many circumstances, repeal bills haven’t received committee hearings in recent years. This year, a diverse range of Kansans – murder victims’ family members, faith leaders, those with law enforcement experience, and legal experts – were able to express their support for repeal in front of a House committee. The hearing room was standing room only with supporters of the bill, and those testifying in favor of repeal outnumbered opponents 9 to 1.
Repealing the death penalty in Maryland was an arduous task that took many years – with many ups and downs. It culminated in 2013, when the General Assembly passed Senate Bill 276, Death Penalty Repeal – Substitution of Life Without the Possibility of Parole, with the crucial support of Gov. Martin O’Malley. But that historic action came after years of work by many individuals, organizations, consultants, and elected officials.
Doing away with capital punishment in Maryland was a milestone in the national abolition movement. Five other states had ended the death penalty in the years leading up to 2013. The decision in Maryland – which sits south of the Mason-Dixon Line and had carried out several executions in the near past –sent a signal across the country that repeal would gain momentum.