Speaker: Abolish death penalty

By Casey Jones

On Nov. 10, HCC hosted a speaker, Diann Rust-Tierney, the director of the National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty, in the Shears Tech building.

The purpose of the speech is exactly as it sounds: a plead to the young people to give their support in the abolishment of the death penalty in Kansas.

In her speech, Rust-Tierney brought up many points including the death penalty’s connection to the emotional trauma caused to the families of both the victim and the convicted.

“There’s a disconnect between having the death penalty and public safety,” said Rust-Tierney.

Rust-Tierney then went on to talk about how the system does not value the lives of convicts equally, providing evidence that a staggering amount of ethnic minorities are proven innocent in the court of appeals.

“The single most determinative factor was race,” Rust-Tierney said.

There were even examples of those who had obvious psychological ailments, such as the story of a Vietnam veteran who was convicted and executed over murders due to a PTSD flashback.

Towards the end of her speech, Rust-Tierney brought up that the government has put secrecy laws into effect, preventing the public from knowing what goes into the lethal injections and where the state gets those drugs.

Rust-Tierney finished her speech urging Kansas citizens to make a push to lead the nation.

“We have a lot of hearts and minds to change,” Rust-Tierney said. “We need Kansas to lead the nation.”

Kansas currently has the death penalty by lethal injection, like 35 other U.S. states.

The state of Kansas has not executed an inmate since 1965. However, the death penalty has been abolished and reinstated three times.

In 2010, the Kansas Senate was one vote short of replacing the death penalty with life without the possiblity of parole — for the crime of aggravated murder.

Kansas is famous for the hanging executions of Richard Hickok and Perry Smith in 1965, for the murder of the Clutter family, at their Finney County farm.

The shocking murders were immortalized in Truman Capote’s book “In Cold Blood.”

Shelby Horton contributed to this report.

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