Friday, December 17, 2004

Kansas Christmas Surprise

Well now, color me green and call me a Christmas tree, another state has thrown out its death penalty. The Kansas Supreme Court ruled on Friday that the state's death penalty law is unconstitutional. In a 4-3 decision, the court found that a provision of the law, which provides how jurors should weigh death penalty arguments, violates the Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments of the Constitution. The 1994 law states that when a jury finds the arguments for and against a death sentence equal, the jury's decision should favor a finding of death. This provision unfairly (and unconstitutionally) favors the prosecution.

Six different inmates are affected by the Court's ruling. All six will be resentenced immediately without the option of death. The Kansas Court has now left it up to the state legislature to rewrite a constitutional law. Until then, Kansas will be free of new death sentences.

Kansas death penalty ruled unconstitutional (CNN)

Kansas death penalty declared unconstitutional (NY Times)

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