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Column Making Conservative Case Attracts Attention

Rep. Floyd

Rep. David Floyd’s recent column making the conservative case for repeal of the death penalty is gaining attention in Kentucky and in the nation. The Death Penalty Information Center features it this week in its Weekly Updates mailing. In case you missed the column itself you can read it here.

The column also elicited a response from Byron VanArsdale, who lives in Greensburg, Kentucky and has given us permission to quote from the letter he emailed Rep. Floyd.

Honorable Mr. Floyd:

Greetings, sir. Your article on legislation to repeal the death penalty which appears on the Nelson County Gazette website is both compelling and pertinent. I, too, have struggled with my position on this prominent issue for several years, especially during my seminary studies.

While opposition to the death penalty may not be as widespread among conservatives as we would like, in my opinion, by educating others regarding the church’s historical position regarding the sacredness of human life, there is persuasive hope. In David Gushee’s book, The Sacredness of Human Life, the author presents the surprising fact (to many) that early Christians did not condone involvement in government, especially war. Gushee wrote:

…the early church leaders from whom we have surviving writings did not rest easy with Christian involvement in government (with its use of violence), military service and especially warfare, and for most of early church history all three were forbidden to Christians by their pastors. (Kindle Location 2350)

Gushee then goes on to quote early church fathers up to the early 300’s A.D., including Hippolytus who wrote, “(a)…believer who wishes to become a soldier must be dismissed from the church because they have despised God.” (from The Apostolic Tradition, 16.19)

Mr. Floyd, I appreciate that we are both veterans who have served their country honorably. The appropriateness of participating in warfare is another issue for another day, but, if what we are looking for is consistency within a worldview which values human life, we have to give authors like Gushee their place in the debate. Though the early church fathers may have despised both war and capital punishment because of the injustices present in their respective contemporary governments, they abhorred the taking of any human life chiefly because of Jesus’ teaching that Christians are to love everyone without partiality, as God is without partiality.

To read the entire letter from Mr. VanArsdale, click here.

Mike Janocik

Rep. Floyd also appeared as a guest on WLCR AM 1040′s The Mike Janocik show on Feb. 13 to discuss his bill to repeal the death penalty in Kentucky, House Bill 330. You can listen to what he had to say that day by clicking here.

The Record, the weekly newspaper published for the Archdiocese of Louisville, also highlighted Rep. Floyd’s recent column. In an editorial, “Death penalty’s time is over,” editor Glenn Rutherford quotes extensively from Rep. Floyd’s column and concludes with his own words:

Representative Floyd makes sense. Continuing state-sanctioned executions doesn’t, whether in Texas, in Kentucky or in any other state. It’s time to end this practice once and for all.

Photos: Floyd, Legislative Research Commission; Janocik, WLCR AM 1040 Radio.

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The Forgotten Executioner

When Kentucky’s General Assembly takes up Senate Bill 77 or House Bill 330 for discussion and debate, there will be a lot of talk about killers, victims, family members, trial mistakes, executing the innocent and a host of other issues that show us how broken this system is.

Dr. Ault

But we probably won’t hear much about what happens to those who kill in our names: the wardens and execution team members who have executed fellow human beings.

And that is tragic.

Fortunately Kentucky has one man who has bravely discussed what he experienced and still experiences as a result of carrying out orders to kill. Eastern Kentucky University College of Justice and Safety Dean Allen Ault recently appeared on the BBC’s program, HARDtalk, and “bared his soul” with interviewer Stephen Sackur:

It’s the most premeditated form of murder you can possibly imagine and it stays in your psyche for ever.

After describing some of the executions he oversaw, Dr. Ault concludes:

No-one has the right to ask a public servant to take on a life-long sentence of nagging doubt, shame and guilt.

Read the whole article and view a short video of the interview here.

In addition to all the other questions needing to be asked about the use of the death penalty, it is essential that Kentuckians also ask themselves this one:

Are we justified in asking our employees to kill others?

Photo: Eastern Kentucky University website

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Conservative Ky. Columnist Endorses Abolition of Death Penalty

John David Dyche is well-known as a conservative Republican, especially by readers of his columns in the The Courier-Journal and the local Fox television station.

His recent column, “Conservatives Against the death penalty,” praises Republican State Representatives, David Floyd and Julie Raque Adams, for filing a bill to repeal the death penalty and keep in place life without parole.

He notes that the U. S. Supreme Court has not yet declared it an unconstitutional practice, and then adds,

But just because a practice passes constitutional muster does not make it a good idea. Many conservatives are coming to realize that the death penalty is a bad one.

He goes on to speak about Conservatives Concerned About The Death Penalty and quotes from several well-known conservatives who oppose state-sanctioned killing.

At the end he writes:

As we have seen on issues like gay marriage, public attitudes can change rapidly on even hot button topics. To paraphrase Victor Hugo, there is nothing so powerful as an idea whose time has come.

Abolition of the death penalty is such an idea, and its time has come for conservatives. Kentuckians owe a debt of gratitude to the conservative leaders like Floyd and Adams who are taking action on the issue.

You can listen to him and read the text of his column by clicking here.

Graphic: WDRB TV

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An Issue That Transcends Politics

Rep. Floyd

For the first time since 1980, a Republican lawmaker has introduced legislation to repeal the death penalty. State Representative David Floyd, joined by State Representative Julie Raque Adams, another Republican, filed House Bill 330. Six others have joined them by co-sponsoring the bill.

Sen. Neal

Earlier in this session, State Senator Gerald Neal, a Democrat and former supporter of executions, also filed a bill to repeal the death penalty, Senate Bill 77, with two co-sponsors. Both Sen. Neal and Rep. Floyd are seeking additional co-sponsors from both parties.

This issue transcends politics. In the past several years five states have abolished the death penalty because lawmakers from across the spectrum passed repeal bills and governors signed them: Maryland, New Jersey, Illinois, New Mexico, and Connecticut. New York’s death penalty was struck down by its Supreme Court and legislators have not moved to reinstate it.

So far, constituents and others have been contacting lawmakers urging them to co-sponsor and support passage of one of these two bills. Easily done, you can call 1.800.372.7181 to leave a message for those who represent you. Call even if you don’t know who your legislators are, because those who answer can readily give you their names based on where you live.

We encourage you to come to Frankfort to meet with your legislators or set up a meeting in their districts. Shekina Lavalle, KCADP Outreach Coordinator, is ready to help you. So is our really eager intern, Kate Mudd. Call Shekinah at 502.636.1330 or click here to email her. So far Kate, along with Michael VonAllmen, one of Kentucky’s several wrongfully convicted persons, have impressed several lawmakers with their visits. All are welcome to get active on this issue.

Watch Michael VonAllmen tell his story to a group at Centre College.

Photos: Kentucky General Assembly Legislative Research Commission

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Judge Orders Trial on State Execution Protocol

Judge Phillip Shepherd has decided to have a trial regarding the remain concerns he has about the state’s execution process. The Associated Press writes that

In December, Shepherd raised concerns about how the state would determine if an inmate is mentally disabled, if the public and defense attorneys see enough of the execution preparation before the lethal injection begins and if the inmate has access to counsel in the hours leading up to an execution.

All executions are on hold in Kentucky pending the results of this trial. To read more click here.

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