By Keith Rouda (Contact)
To be delivered to: The Kentucky State House, The Kentucky State Senate, and Governor Steve Beshear
A recent report by the American Bar Association [ABA] found that Kentucky's death penalty system is so broken and unfair that the state should declare a moratorium on executions. But a moratorium isn't enough.
It is time to end the death penalty in Kentucky altogether.
The 500-page ABA assessment found no uniform standards on eyewitness identifications and police interrogations, and a high error rate in death sentences, with more than 60 percent overturned on appeal. The study also found that Kentucky lacks safeguards to ensure that defendants with mental disabilities are not put to death.
American Bar Association President Wm. (Bill) Robinson, along with former Kentucky Supreme Court Justices James E. Keller and Martin E. Johnstone, all of whom participated in the ABA assessment of Kentucky's death penalty system, recently wrote in the Courier-Journal, "The list of problematic cases is staggering, and review of the system is deeply troubling. Fairness, impartiality and effectiveness of counsel have been undermined by serious flaws that reveal systemic problems in administration of the death penalty in the commonwealth…"
Richard Dieter, Executive Director of the Death Penalty Information Center and author of The Death Penalty in 2011: Year End Report, notes that the nation as a whole is backing away from the death penalty. “This year, the use of the death penalty continued to decline by almost every measure,” Dieter said . “Executions, death sentences, public support, the number of states with the death penalty all dropped from previous years. Whether it’s concerns about unfairness, executing the innocent, the high costs of the death penalty, or the general feeling that the government just can’t get it right, Americans moved further away from capital punishment in 2011.”
"To make the leap that murder victim families are united in wanting a death penalty continues the critical oversimplification of “paying a price commensurate with their crimes” and the pathetic use of a grieving family at a parole hearing to justify another murder. I belong to two different organizations of murder victim families (thousands of us) that feel victim survivors are victimized yet again when murderers are given the gallows. My brother was murdered in 1986 and his murderer was poisoned to death in 1997 by the state of Missouri. That is why I work as a board member of the Kentucky Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty. Don’t lay the need to continue executions down at victims’ feet. (You don’t know the voices of all of us.)"
- Ben Griffith, in a letter-to-the-editor recently published by the Frankfort State-Journal.
The death penalty is costly.
The death penalty is out of step with modern thinking.
The death penalty is risky.
The death penalty is unfair, broken, and arbitrary.
The death penalty is unnecessary.
Victims' families deserve better.
Kentucky’s death penalty is too broken to fix. It needs to be abolished.
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