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Kansas Studies High Death Penalty Costs

A new study by the Kansas Judicial Council has revealed a serious disparity in cost between regular trials and death penalty trials. The study, which examined 34 recent death penalty cases, found that jury trials for death penalty cases averaged 40.13 days to compared 16.79 days for non-death penalty trials. The difference in cost was just as large, with death penalty defense costs averaging $395,762 per case, compared to $98,963 for defense in non-death penalty trials. Additionally, housing death row inmates in Kansas cost $49,380 per year compared to $24,690 for regular inmates. These new figures remind us of the high financial cost of a system that is problematic in so many other ways as

Good News for National Crime Victims' Rights Week

Last weekend Maryland became the second state, after Illinois in 2011, to allocate part of its budget savings after abolishing the death penalty towards helping the families of murder victims. The bill for the victims’ families passed with unanimous votes from pro- and anti-repeal lawmakers at the start of National Crime Victims’ Rights Week. Additionally, a bill officially recognizing homicide victims’ families as a class of victims, giving them access to state services and support for years to come, is heading for final passage, receiving unanimous support by the state legislature. National Crime Victims’ Rights Week, observed every April, helps communities throughout the country promote v

See Curtis McCarty this May

Death row exoneree Curtis McCarty will speak in three Nebraska communities this May, recounting his two decades on Oklahoma’s death row for a crime he didn’t commit. Curtis was convicted twice and sentenced to death three times based on prosecutorial misconduct and bad forensics. Narrowly escaping an execution, it was only a lucky break that allowed Curtis to prove his actual innocence. Since his exoneration in 2007, Curtis has become an internationally-recognized speaker, describing his troubled youth, the way police targeted him for a murder after they’d run into a year of dead ends, and how DNA eventually proved his innocence. Along the way, Curtis brings the listener into the violence a

Support for Death Penalty Continues to Decline

Yet another recent study indicates that support for the death penalty is on the decline, while its significant risk to the wrongfully convicted continues to move into the spotlight. The Pew Research Center reports that just 55% of U.S. adults support the death penalty, the lowest figure since the 1970s. Meanwhile, as support for the death penalty declines and the number of executions each year continues to fall, rates of violent crime have also fallen, and were at their lowest rate in four decades in 2012. It’s clear that the death penalty isn’t able and isn’t needed to deter violent crime. In addition, a surge in exonerations in the past 25 years has drawn attention to the real risk of exec

Review of "Death Row Stories"

If you have been keeping up with television lately, then you are probably already aware of CNN’s documentary series “Death Row Stories.” Each episode of the series is dedicated to one individual and his/her case, detailing the alleged crime, the sentence, and the experience on death row. Interviews with individuals close to the cases, dramatic narration, as well as images from the case are used to tell the stories, creating a sense of drama that adds to the emotional power of each story. What stands out most in “Death Row Stories,” though, is the powerful way that those close to the accused, such as lawyers or family members, became activists for the innocence of the accused, sometimes chan

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