TOPEKA (KSNT) – Kansas lawmakers are discussing possible changes to how the state of Kansas carries out executions.
Dan Burrows with the Office of the Kansas Attorney General introduced House Bill 2782 to the Legislature on Thursday, Feb. 8. The bill was referred to the Committee on Judiciary with a hearing set for 3:30 p.m. on Thursday, Feb. 15.
In a nutshell, the bill aims to give the secretary of the Kansas Department of Corrections (KDOC) the authorization to use hypoxia when carrying out sentences of death. It also requires the district court to issue a warrant to the secretary to carry out a sentence of death.
Language in the bill leaves the door open to the secretary to select between lethal injection or hypoxia when carrying out an execution in Kansas. An execution using nitrogen hypoxia was recently carried out in the state of Alabama in a first-of-its-kind performance of this form of capital punishment.
Nitrogen hypoxia was used to end the life of Kenneth Eugene Smith for his part in the 1988 killing of Elizabeth Sennett. Death by nitrogen hypoxia received criticism when it was used to execute Smith earlier this year from witnesses of the event.
Kansas has not seen capital punishment carried out since 1965, according to the KDOC website. Current state law dictates the death penalty must be carried out by lethal injection. This is a sentencing option for offenders who are over the age of 18. However, those convicted of capital murder can instead be sentenced to life in prison with a minimum term of 25 years to parole eligibility.
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