Friday, August 01, 2008

Phil Kline Should Resign in Shame (a guest post by Omar)

Phil Kline should resign.

Imagine living in a state where the punishment for murder was 20 years in prison; the punishment for raping someone before murdering them was 25 years in prison; and the punishment for kidnapping, raping, and murdering someone was 30 years in prison.

Now imagine a man named X has kidnapped, raped and murdered a woman. The District Attorney builds his case against X. The case against X is overwhelming: including surveillance tapes, fingerprints, DNA, etc. X’s defense attorneys fear that their client will get 30 years in prison. So, in an effort to help their client they suggest to the district attorney that their client would confess if sentenced to only 20 years in prison. The district attorney decides that this would save everyone the trouble of a long trial and agrees.

Has justice been served? Has the law the district attorney sworn to uphold been defended?

Can’t the parents (or anyone else in the community) complain thus: Why is this murderer / rapist / kidnapper only receiving the punishment reserved for murderers? Isn’t X getting away with rape and kidnapping? And isn’t he getting away with it by simply using his confession as a bargaining chip?

Indeed, if punishment is essentially a “price” system, (do the crime, do the time), then criminal X may have reasoned (long before he met his attorneys) that he would go out and commit murder, rape and kidnapping, and then if caught use his confession to try to only pay the price for murder. No doubt X hoped to get away with 3 crimes; but after copping a plea for a reduced confession he will take comfort in the fact that he got away with 2.

In the state of Kansas we reserve capital punishment only for the most heinous of crimes. Our laws do not allow us to put “mere” murderers to death--but our laws do maintain that capital punishment is the appropriate punishment for murderers who rape or kidnap their victims first. Edward Hall did all 3 to Kelsey Smith. And our district attorney let Edward Hall cop a plea to avoid capital punishment. Allowing criminals to cop a plea may be a common practice. But these crimes were too heinous for Edward Hall to be allowed to plea bargain his way out of being punished for all of his crimes. Our district attorney let Edward Hall get away with rape and kidnapping.

Phil Kline should resign in shame.

UPDATE: Phil Kline was defeated in the Republican Primary on Tuesday. It appears his days as DA in Johnson County are numbered.