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Bills filed in both chambers to abolish the death penalty

 

Call Kentucky Legislators: 1.800.372.7181

Ask For Support of SB 54 and HB 155

Sen. Gerald Neal and Rep. Chad McCoy have filed bills to abolish the death penalty in their respective chambers.

Both SB 54 and HB 155 remove the death penalty as an option for punishment for persons convicted of crimes now eligible for the death penalty. When the death penalty is abolished, prosecutors, jurors and judges will still have the means to hold a guilty party accountable and punish him or her severely:

  • Life without benefit of probation or parole; or
  • Life without benefit of probation or parole for 25 years or
  • Life sentences; or
  • A term of a minimum of 20 years and a maximum of 50 years

Ending the use of the death penalty in Kentucky would free up tax dollars now wasted by prosecutors who decide to seek the death penalty. Since 2010, elected Commonwealth Attorneys in just a few of Kentucky’s 120 counties have pursued the death penalty in expensive trials. In nearly all cases, the jurors told them NO and imposed one of the sentences listed above. Asking for death is far more costly than asking for life without parole. Study after study in other states conclude punishing killers by sentencing them to life without parole is less costly than trying to kill them.

When the state decides not to execute prisoners it ends the possibility of executing the wrong person, an innocent person. Kentucky almost did this when a prosecutor committed misconduct that was partially the cause of putting a Kentucky teenager on death row. Larry Osborne, after winning a unanimous Kentucky Supreme Court victory, got a new trial, this time a fair trial. And the jury said “NOT GUILTY” and his life on death row was over.

Every year more death row inmates are exonerated. The total number as of this date is 160 death row inmates exonerated and free. Human beings make mistakes. Knowing that, it is unconscionable to keep putting anyone on death row.

Many falsely believe that victim family members need executions to bring them “closure” or justice. KCADP has several victim family members on our board actively working to end the death penalty. To really find out what many victim family members conclude about the use of the death penalty we recommend reading No need to killHere family members tell their own stories and why killing another person is not going to help them, and, indeed, might actually harm them.

Your voice is important and lawmakers tell us time and again, we need to hear from constituents. Now is your chance to have an impact and change Kentucky for the better. Call 1.800.372.7181 and ask your State Senators and State Representatives to co-sponsor and support these two bills: Senate Bill 54 and House Bill 155.

Graphic: Riverbirch Productions

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‘Glaring problems’ in Kentucky’s death penalty writes Eric Mount

Long-time abolition advocate Eric Mount has written an excellent column published in Danville’s Advocate-Messenger online site.

After discussing the national trend away from the use of the death penalty and the growing awareness that it costs far more to prosecute, convict and carry out death sentences than it does to use the punishment of life without parole (which has been available to Kentucky prosecutors since 1998), Mount goes on to report about the ABA Kentucky Assessment report that has been available to legislators since 2011.

Citing the disturbing findings of the report, Mount concludes his column in this way:

When the Kentucky General Assembly has its next regular session, there will again be proposals to abolish the death penalty, but the past history of such efforts is not encouraging, despite numerous good reasons to abolish it. At least, however, we can harbor the hope that the ABA report’s findings will lead to the declaration of a moratorium on the use of the death penalty until the substantial problems cited in the report are rectified to make the system more just and more efficient.

We certainly encourage supporters to imitate Eric in taking action to advance the cause of abolition. One sure way to make your voice heard is to call 1.800.372.7181 and leave a message for your State Senator and State Representative. As for them to support the abolition bill which will be introduced in January 2018. Strongly suggest they should co-sponsor this legislation.

Here is a personal statement which Eric made for KCADP’s YouTube video series. The death penalty is on trial and Eric is an excellent witness against its use.

 

Photo: Mitchel Lensink

 

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Pope Francis declares death penalty never a morally admissible punishment

Speaking during a celebration of the 25th anniversary of the publication of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, Pope Francis drew a sharp focus on the need for an updated understanding of the church’s teaching on the death penalty.

ABC News reported:

During an anniversary ceremony at the Vatican, Francis repeated his insistence that capital punishment is “inadmissible” under any circumstance. He said the death penalty violates the Gospel and amounts to the voluntary killing of a human life, which “is always sacred in the eyes of the creator.”

According to a Catholic News Agency report, the Holy Father stressed

that God is a Father “who always waits for the return of the son who, knowing he has erred, asks forgiveness and begins a new life.”

“No one, therefore, can have their life taken from them, nor the possibility of a moral and existential redemption that goes back in favor of the community.”

All news accounts are making it clear that Pope Francis is teaching that “It’s necessary to repeat that no matter how serious the crime, the death penalty is inadmissible because it attacks the inviolable dignity of the person.”

After St. John Paul II’s homily on January 27, 1999 in St. Louis offering a new understanding of the use of the death penalty, the Catechism was updated to reflect this new teaching. It is reasonable to conclude that the Catechism of the Catholic Church may soon undergo another revision in this area to reflect that the death penalty is never a moral option and should be abolished.

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Ray Krone to visit Kentucky; tell of his ordeal as an innocent man on death row

1.800.372.7181

We know everyone reading this post is troubled by the fact that because we have the means to sentence someone to death, we will certainly end up sentencing the wrong person, a person who is innocent. Because this troubles you, and it should, don’t wait; pick up your phone and call the number above and let your Kentucky state lawmakers know it is time to abolish the death penalty in Kentucky before we sentence another innocent defendant to death, as we did in the case of Larry Osborne.

Ray Krone

We are happy to present another WITNESS TO INNOCENCE tour, bringing to Kentucky one of the 159 defendants exonerated since the death penalty became law again in 1976. We are thankful that one of our prime partners, the ACLU of Kentucky, funds and organizes these events.

This time we welcome Ray Krone. Ray has visited before and his story is amazing: suffering abuse by the state of Arizona and spending three years on death row, seven more in prison before finally being released because he was the wrong man. Fortunately, the right man is still in prison after copping a plea and not getting the death penalty.

Here’s where you can go to hear Ray tell his story and learn more about why we need to end the death penalty in Kentucky.

PIKEVILLE – 7:00 p.m., Tuesday, Sep 26 – in the Chrisman Auditorium of the Armington Learning Center

LONDON – 11:00 a.m., Wednesday, Sep 27 – North London Campus of the Somerset Community and Technical College, 100 University Drive, Health Science Building, Room 113

GRAYSON – 6:30 p.m., Thursday, Sep 28 – at the public library, 116 W. Main St.

We promise you an exhilarating hour or two listening to Ray and engaging in conversation. Grab a friend or two, or even a state legislator, and come out for this event.

And don’t forget, let your Kentucky lawmakers know, it is time to abolish the death penalty to be sure we don’t ever sentence another innocent person to death in Kentucky.

1.800.372.7181

Photo: Pat Delahanty

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New Book to Help Attorneys Argue Death Penalty Cases Edited by Kentucky’s Public Advocate

James Clark

Ed Monahan

Kentucky Public Advocate Ed Monahan and Dean of the Florida State University College of Social Work James Clark have teamed up and edited a new book to help clients receive top-notch representation from those representing them. According to the publisher, the American Bar Association, Tell the Client’s Story: Mitigation in Criminal and Death Penalty Cases ‘”provides litigation teams the best strategies for effective mitigation work in criminal and capital cases. Top mitigation experts from across the nation with demonstrated practice wisdom will help readers to successfully litigate complex criminal cases.”

It comes highly recommended by Sr. Helen Prejean, author of Dead Man Walking and The Death of Innocents. She writes,

Sentencing a human being to death imitates the violence such an act claims to abhor. Allowing our government to kill citizens compromises the deepest moral values upon which this country was conceived: the inviolable dignity of all human persons. I am not an attorney but I know good lawyering when I see it. The good news is that Tell the Client’s Story is the Bible of good lawyering for capital clients. If you are on a criminal defense team, I pray that you study this testament that reveals the innate humanity of capital clients and our connectedness to them as fellow human beings, and that you use the wisdom it communicates. Thank you, Defenders, for your ministry of mercy.

Notable trial attorney Bryan Stevenson, author of Just Mercy, writes,

This new book is an essential guide to help 21st Century criminal defense lawyers learn a skill that is just as important as mastering the rules of evidence, effective cross-examination or persuasive summation. Well organized, well written and thoughtfully presented, this terrific book should be read and at the ready in every effective criminal defense lawyer’s library.

Here is a link to a review of the book by Daniel T. Goyette who is the chief public defender and the executive director of the Louisville-Jefferson County Public Defender Corp. He was the 1997 recipient of the ABA’s Dorsey Award.

Click on the book’s title, Tell the Client’s Storyto purchase a copy.

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