Lawmakers May Speed Up Appeals Process In Death Penalty Cases

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TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW)- Some lawmakers want to speed up the appeals process in death penalty cases. They're considering a bill that sets a time limit.

The Senate approved the bill last month. It sets a limit of three years and six months for the Kansas Supreme Court to decide an appeal of a death penalty conviction.

"I was in prison for almost 25 years for a crime I didn't commit, a first degree murder," said Thomas Goldstein.

In 1979, Kansas native, Thomas Goldstein was sentenced on charges he killed a person. 24 years later, a judge found Goldsten was not guilty and he was freed in 2004.

He says he is an example of why capital punishment cases cannot be rushed.

"If you try to expedite the rights of the accused, you are liable to make more mistakes and likely an innocent man will be convicted and executed," he says.

But, Deputy Solicitor General Kris Ailslieger told lawmakers a bill aimed at speeding up the appeals process in death penalty cases addresses a big concern.

"For a lot of people they say the death penalty doesn't work because it takes too long and trying to speed things up to a reasonable time frame is in the public interest," says Ailslieger.

Legislator Steven Becker disagrees. "They are trying to fast track the death penalty from the date of conviction, through the appeal process to the execution," he says.

Becker also says death penalty cases are complicated and it's not for lawmakers to decide how much time the courts need.

"It needs to be set by court rule not legislators," says Becker.

"I think the legislators are within their rights to set public policy. The legislator is the body that decides what the law and the court's job is to apply the law to the cases they have before them," says Ailsleiger.

Kansas has not executed anyone since reinstating the death penalty 20 years ago. There are 9 inmates currently on death row in Kansas.