Kansas is one of 27 states that maintains the death penalty. In recent years, several states—including Virginia, a leading death penalty state with a legacy of racial terror and lynchings—have abolished the death penalty. Efforts to remove Kansas’s death penalty are not new. As recently as 2021, 34 Kansas legislators came together to support a bipartisan bill to end capital punishment in the state.

These efforts, combined with evolving standards and awareness of the cruelty of death at the hands of the State, have rekindled an ever-present conversation about whether Kansas legally can, or morally should, continue to keep the death penalty around.