College GOP Group Calls For End To Death Penalty


By John Celock

The Kansas College Republicans are calling for the end to the death penalty in the state.

The group unanimously passed a resolution in July calling for the end of capital punishment in the state, saying that support for the death penalty is not consistent with being pro-life. The resolution, which was publicly announced Thursday, comes after the Kansas Republican Party dropped a pro-death penalty plank for the party platform last year and after Nebraska repealed its death penalty law earlier this year.

“One of the main things is to legitimate claim for support of life,” Kansas College Republican Chairman Dalton Glasscock told The Celock Report. “Too many Republicans say they are in support of life from conception to natural death but they are in favor of the death penalty. This is a way to show support against pro-choice policies.”

Glasscock said that the resolution was first proposed to the group earlier this year and is part of a new plan for the organization to pass resolutions taking stands on various public policy issues. He said that he and other College Republicans have seen what they say is an increasing support for ending the death penalty in Kansas.

The resolution calls for the state GOP to specifically come out in support for repealing the death penalty and calls on Gov. Sam Brownback (R) and the GOP-controlled state Legislature to repeal the death penalty. The group did not endorse any replacements for the death penalty.

“We believe this is a step that needs to be taken,” Glasscock said. “We urge all Republican elected officials in Kansas and the nation to follow suit in Nebraska in eliminating the death penalty.”

The Nebraska Legislature voted 30-19 in May to override Gov. Pete Ricketts (R) veto of a death penalty repeal in the state, the first Republican state to do so in several decades. The Nebraska repeal, pushed by Sen. Ernie Chambers (D-Omaha), garnered support from both Democrats and Republicans in the Legislature.

During the Nebraska debate, one of the state’s youngest Republicans senators, 29-year-old Sen. Tyler Larson (R-O’Neill) said that he would vote to sustain Ricketts’ veto due to his previous campaign support for the death penalty, but he is debating his own thoughts.

“It wasn’t until now that I really sat down and thought about it. But when I campaigned and it was an issue, I said I would support it,” Larson said in May. “Today I will sustain the governor’s veto because I campaigned on it. This is fair warning that this issue is alive in my heart. I am telling you now that next time this comes up it might be different. This might be the last time I give this state the right to take a life, I don’t think they necessarily should. I owe it to the people who I told on the campaign.”

An April poll from Pew Research Center shows that Republican support for the death penalty dropped from 87 percent in 1996 to 77 percent in 2015. The poll also showed that Democratic support for the death penalty dropped from 71 percent in 1996 to 40 percent in 2015.

The Kansas College Republicans call is getting pushback from state House Transportation and Public Safety Budget Committee Chairman J.R. Claeys (R-Salina), who took to Twitter Thursday to accuse the group of wanting to allow “cop killers to have a shot at adding child rape to their record.”

The tweet sparked a twitter war between Claeys and Glasscock.

Claeys’ tweet did spark a back and forth between him and Glasscock which had the College Republican chief accusing Claeys of comments “beneath his office”.

Glasscock also took to Twitter to tell Claeys that he was “disappointed” that they could not have a “civil disagreement,” a comment that sparked Claeys to double down on his accusation that Glasscock and the College Republicans were “defending monsters”. Glasscock then tweeted that Claeys’ rhetoric was “beneath your office”.

Claeys told The Celock Report that his tweet was based on the 1975 killing of Salina police officer Jerry Ivey. Ivey’s killer, Roy Earl Schultz, escaped from prison in 1977 and kidnapped a family of three and attempted to rape a five-year-old girl while holding the family hostage.

“It isn’t a spineless legislature that pulls over the cop killer, it’s our men and women in law enforcement,” Claeys told The Celock Report. “The public deserves to be protected from these monsters. And I’ll do everything in my power to protect our officers, our troopers and the people of the state of Kansas.”

Claeys also cited the case of Reginald and Jonathan Carr, who were sentenced to the death penalty for torturing, sexually assaulting and killing four Wichita young professionals during a 2000 crime spree. The Kansas Supreme Court overturned the Carr brothers sentence last year, in a case that sparked anger amongst conservatives.

“It’s telling that liberal groups are praising this move,” Claeys said. “Defending the Carr brothers may be something the CRs want to do, but I’m more interested in protecting innocent Kansans.”

Glasscock told The Celock Report that the group is not taking a stand on the Carr Brothers case or on any specific case in the state. He said that the group is looking at the larger issue instead.

Glasscock told The Celock Report that he knew the group would be generating debate. He did urge those opposing the resolution not to make accusations.

“I welcome any pushback we get. I respect Representative Claeys’ opinion on the issue,” Glasscock told The Celock Report. “I hope we can remain civil and not make accusatory statements.”

Glasscock said that the group would be putting out more resolutions going forward. He noted that the death penalty one was a start based on what he sees as growing opposition to the death penalty among his generation.

“This is the first of many different resolutions. Our generation is the most pro-life generation in American history and our generation opposes the death penalty,” he said. “This is symbolic of the larger populace as well.”