(WICHITA, Kan.) — Emotional testimony from families hoping to keep convicted killers behind bars. Several parole hearings were held in Wichita Tuesday.
But for many who testified,this year is different because of a change Governor Sam Brownback made last year. To save money, the Kansas Department of Corrections took over the duties of the parole board.
Tears were hard to hold back as Cathy Kessinger's family pled with the prisoner review board to keep her killer behind bars.
"She didn't know that for weeks, possibly months, that he was planning her murder and he carried it out," said Kessinger's mother Sandi Hutchins.
Kessinger was strangled in 1984 in a murder for hire plot by her husband,Bill. He is now up for parole again.
"I do have concerns," said Kessinger's sister-in-law Sondra Hutchins. "But I hope to God that they do the right thing and that is leave him where he belongs."
They weren't the only family of a murder victim to testify Tuesday.
"Do not let time somehow diminish what occurred on May 8th, 1979," said Jan Colvin, the sister of murder victim Kay Robinson. "The horrific crimes that were committed then are just as real today, nothing has changed but time."
Robinson was raped and murdered in Augusta 33 years ago. Her killer is also up for parole.
This isn't the first time these victims have been to a parole hearing, but the people they are testifying to are different.
Last year Governor Sam Brownback got rid of the State's independent parole board and replaced it with a 3-person "prisoner review board". All work for the department of corrections.
The move saved the State a half million dollars, but some are concerned it will also change the parole process
"Before when we have gone up its usually before the same people," said Sondra Hutchins. "They've known our story, they've heard us, they've seen us. These individuals don't know us."
Hutchins won't know if the testimony convinced board members until they make a decision, which could come next month. But she and others hope the convicted killers in question stay behind bars.
"Its just to protect our families, and to protect everyone else who is out there," Hutchins said.
If parole is granted, the inmates could be out of prison sometime in May. Some members of their families also testified Tuesday on the inmate's behalf.
New prisoner review board takes over.