ACLU Challenges Kansas Death Penalty in Kyle Young Case


By Kevin Barragan 

WICHITA, KSThe Kansas death penalty statutes are being challenged this week by the ACLU, and attorneys for Kyle Young.

The defense team argued, “Because the Kansas death penalty is racially discriminatory, arbitrary, and does not serve a valid safety purpose, it violates the Kansas and United States Constitutions.”

The ACLU’s Capital Punishment Project and law firms of Ali and Lockwood and Hogan Lovell, and the Kansas Death Penalty Defense Unit support the statement.

The defense said “experts” will testify, “Kansas’ death penalty is racially discriminatory. The race of the victim and the race of the accused person has an outsized role in whether a person will face the death penalty.”

The ACLU added,  “The jury selection process in capital trials, known as death qualification, disproportionately excludes Black potential jurors, especially Black women. The result is juries that are white, more prone to convict, and that doesn’t represent the community’s conscience.”

The ACLU added Kansas’s death penalty…”is undeniable; unfairly applied; and has no public safety purpose.”

“After almost 30 years, it is beyond time for the Kansas death penalty to face constitutional scrutiny…We have gathered a mountain of evidence that shows the Kansas death penalty violates the Constitution: it is racially discriminatory in its application and its jury selection process, it is applied unfairly and rarely, and it does not create safety for Kansas,” charged Cassandra Stubbs, director of ACLU’s Capital Punishment Project.

Kansas hasn’t executed a person since 1965 and out of the nine awaiting death, a third of them are Black men, said the ACLU, adding in Sedgwick County, death penalty cases are racially discriminatory with jurors inclined to support the death penalty.

“The jury is supposed to be the conscience of the community and our judicial system,” states Bria Nelson, ACLU attorney of Kansas. “But through the death qualification process, jurors are denied their voices in the judicial process…”

“Two states, Washington and Connecticut, have held the death penalty unconstitutional under their state constitutions in recent years, ” the ACLU argued, adding, “Support for the death penalty is at a historic low in the modern era, death sentencing continues on a downward trajectory.”


About The Author

Kevin Barragan is a first-generation senior at California State University, Los Angeles majoring in political science with an emphasis in prelegal studies and minoring in criminal justice. He plans to attend law school after undergrad in hopes to pursue a law career in advocating for social and civil rights.

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