That's the title of a lengthy report by Dave Helling for the Kansas City Star.
It may be weeks before Kansans know if prosecutors will seek the death penalty for Kyle Flack, accused of killing four people in Franklin County this spring.
It will take far longer — 10 years or more — before anyone in the state is actually put to death for a crime.
And that time gap, advocates on both sides of the death penalty debate say, suggests the state remains deeply uneasy about the punishment — an ambivalence that muddies its value.
“When a law isn’t applied, it isn’t really a law,” said David Muhlhausen, a death penalty supporter and expert with the conservative Heritage Foundation.
Capital punishment opponents aren’t eager to speed up executions, of course. But they say the state’s lengthy death penalty procedure is costing taxpayers millions of dollars in legal fees and other expenses without significantly improving public safety.
“Constituents have said to me, ‘We have a theoretical death penalty, but we don’t carry it out in practice,’” said Mary Sloan, executive director of the Kansas Coalition Against the Death Penalty.
“So if we’re not going to carry it out in practice, why do we pay all that cost?”
No one has been put to death in Kansas since 1965.
“Kansas is 10 years and $20 million away from its first execution,” predicted lawyer and capital punishment opponent Sean O’Brien of Kansas City.
Earlier coverage from Kansas begins at the link.