Commentary: Debate needed on death penalty

On Tuesday, a Kansas father heard the death penalty recommendation for his daughter's murderer and said, "I think it is absolutely just."

Ten years ago, I might have said the same thing. I wished the man who murdered my friend's sister dead, too. Instead, he got two life sentences with no chance at parole from an Iowa jury. In the subsequent years, I've grown far more comfortable with the fact that he's still breathing, but only prison air.

Next month, on the anniversary of her death, I'll take solace from the fact that her murderer can never harm anyone else.

Death would have been an easy out. And the unavoidable appeals would have been cruel for the families of his victims. He also killed a Belton woman in the same morbid Iowa City, Iowa, spree.

This isn't to tell that Kansas father how to grieve. His 19-year-old daughter, Jodi Sanderholm, is gone, and no jury decision or executioner can make his family whole again. As my friend's family has long argued, closure is a silly word.

But how states deal with those decreed worthy of death for their crimes is a very public policy matter. We all end up with that blood on our hands.

And there simply are too many problems/questions to continue with business as usual.

To read the complete column, visit www.kansascity.com.