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Witness To Innocence tour coming to eastern Kentucky

“You can release a man from prison, but you can’t release him from the grave.” Randy Steidl

Randy Steidl—who spent 17 years on Illinois’s death row for a crime he did not commit—will be speaking in Pikeville, Prestonsburg and Whitesburg from November 14 – 16. Steidl is part of the Witness to Innocence program and KCADP and the ACLU of Kentucky are cosponsoring his appearances here. All of the events are open to the public and they all start at 7:00 pm. KCADP is grateful to the ACLU of Kentucky for its continued support of these Witness to Innocence tours. Below is the list of scheduled, public events.

  • Pikeville: Nov. 14 at 7:00 p.m. in the Chrisman Auditorium in the Adminstration Building at 147 Sycamore St.
  • Prestonsburg: Nov. 15 at 7:00 p.m. at the First Presbyterian Church, 1430 South Lake Dr.
  • Whitesburg: Nov. 16 at 7:00 p.m. at the Appalshop Boone Building, 91 Madison Ave.

002 - Innocence concernsAccording to results of a recent poll conducted by the University of Kentucky more than 70% of Kentuckians are concerned about the possibility of killing an innocent person. Kentucky has already come close to executing a wrongfully convicted man who was sentenced to death, Larry Osborne. Fortunately a unanimous Kentucky Supreme Court decision granted Osborne a new trial because his constitutional rights were violated by the circuit court and a second jury found him not guilty in 2002.

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Gateway Community College hosts a discussion on death penalty

panel-cardJoin a distinguished group of Kentuckians for a robust discussion of the death penalty and its use in Kentucky.

  • Professor Michael Mannheimer co-chaired the Kentucky Assessment Team that spent two years studying how the process works in Kentucky. Assisted by staff of the American Bar Association this group issued its 500 page report in 2011. Professor Mannheimer will describe what they found lacking in our system and the recommendations made to improve it, none of which have been implemented.
  • Thomas More College President David Armstrong brings a unique perspective to the discussion. Before his current job, he was a prosecutor and will share his insights about that role and how it led him to conclude the death penalty should be abolished.
  • Ed Monahan, a northern Kentucky native and current Public Advocate for the Commonwealth of Kentucky, brings years of legal experience to this event. As a trial lawyer who tried cases where the death sentence was asked for he has seen first hand how the system works. As Public Advocate his job is to insure defense for the indigent and justice for both the public and those charged with capital murder.
  • Ben Griffith advocates on behalf of those who lost loved ones to murder and who do not want to see anyone sentenced to death. He lost a brother to violence and knew the death penalty would not bring him any comfort. Ben has testified before the members of the Senate and House Judiciary committee and serves on the board of the coalition.
  • Mike VonAllmen spent many year in a Kentucky prison and on parole for a crime he did not commit. False witness identification, the leading cause of wrongful convictions, put him in prison. His story has fascinated audiences throughout Kentucky and his meetings with legislators have raised their interest in abolishing the death penalty, because what happened to Mike can happen to someone facing death.

Please join us: Gateway Community and Technical College, Edgewood Campus, Room E-101, 7 p.m. Doors open at 6:30 p.m.

For more  information about the evening’s event and for complete bios of the presenters click here.

Graphic: courtesy Gateway Community and Technical College

 

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Support for death penalty drops below 50%

new poll from the Pew Research Center found that support for the use of the death penalty dropped to 49 percent nationwide, the lowest level of support in more than 40 years.  We have already seen this trend in Kentucky. Earlier this year the University of Kentucky Survey Research Center polled Kentuckians not only on their support or opposition to the death penalty, but also about their attitudes regarding its expense when compared to life without parole, its failure to provide fair and constitutional trials to defendants evidenced by Kentucky’s error rate of more than 60%, and the pain it causes victim family members who endure the long wait before sentences are carried out. Given these realities, an overwhelming majority of Kentuckians said they prefer life without parole as the maximum penalty for capital murder.

KCADP continues to need your financial support to make sure we have the resources to carry out the campaign in Kentucky. We also need your voice. Please keep raising this important policy issue with friends, neighbors and family. Letters to editors in local newspapers really influence public opinion and announce the growing opposition to lawmakers. You can always reach those who represent you by calling 1.800.372.7181 and leaving your message for your State Senator and State Representative.

A great way to celebrate the result of this poll would be to use our DONATE link to make a $49.00 contribution. If that is not possible any contribution you make champions the cause and invests in a future when Kentucky will be death penalty free.

 

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Champion & Invest in KCADP

Tulio Tourinho-“Now is the time to champion and invest in KCADP,” writes Tulio Tourinho, a staunch KCADP supporter and officer with the Louisville Metro Police Department.

As a person sworn to uphold the law and protect the public, Officer Tourinho believes in respecting human life.

As an active duty police officer I am guided by my moral belief that human life is sacred and ultimately it is my responsibility to protect and serve that life. I believe that this extends to all life and that it doesn’t matter how “deserving” we believe someone is. Regardless of what someone has been convicted of, I believe it is wrong to kill even to demonstrate that killing is wrong. This is why I oppose the death penalty and believe that it should be repealed.

He then added,

In addition to my moral opposition to killing others, this system we use is incredibly expensive and consumes resources that could be better spent in ways that really make us safer. In Kentucky 60% of the cases that resulted in a death sentence were overturned by the courts. Faulty eyewitness evidence, prosecutorial misconduct, police mistakes, unprepared defense attorneys were some of the reasons these defendants were denied fair trials. We can and must do better.

He knows our need for money. KCADP has made great strides toward abolition, and recent polling data verify the progress we have made. Funding is still necessary to continue public education about how flawed the death penalty system is in this state. We also need money to pay for the cost of maintaining our presence on the internet through this website and our social media tools. We are also contracting with  individuals to bring our message to conservatives and evangelicals.

Champions like Officer Tourinho INVEST in a future that saves lives and restores credibility to Kentucky’s justice system. As he said in closing his letter,

Through your previous support we have built a tremendous foundation for success. It is through continued support we increase our opportunities to find Kentuckians who will help us pass a bill repealing the death penalty….

I sincerely thank you for considering my request and appreciate your joining me in this fight for justice.

Join Officer Tourinho in becoming a champion and invest in KCADP with a contribution mailed to KCADP, PO BOX 3092, Louisville KY, 40201. Or use the secure PayPal account by clicking on the DONATE button in the column to the right.

 

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Former prosecutors call for repeal of death penalty

Three former prosecutors have called for replacing the death penalty with life without parole for those convicted of capital murder in Kentucky. In addition to being a prosecutor Stephen Ryan is a retired circuit court judge who sentenced prisoners to death.

Their plea was published in the state’s two newspapers with the highest circulation, the Courier-Journal and the Lexington Herald-Leader, and we anticipate it will be published in other newspapers.

Joseph Gutmann, Stephen Ryan and J. Stew Schneider cited recent polling results in their article and reminded readers that a 2011 report from a Kentucky Assessment Team which studied the process for two years identified numerous problems with the way Kentucky implements the death penalty. There is extensive discussion of this report on this website. 

 

What Kentuckians Say MoratoriumThe writers point out that when the report was release in 2011 a poll found that 62 percent of likely Kentucky voters supported a temporary halt to executions until the problems identified could be corrected. They go on to say that in the most recent polling released last week Kentuckians would strongly support a decision by the governor to halt executions until the broken system is fixed. They write:

Here is the question the interviewers asked in the poll, which was conducted between March 4 and April 30, and included interviews with 684 Kentuckians over the age of 18 (with a margin of error of plus or minus 3.8 percent):

“A two-year study by a panel of Kentucky law professors, judges, and other legal scholars found major problems in the administration of the death penalty in Kentucky and recommended that the state should suspend executions until those problems were fixed. In light of these problems, would you support a decision by the governor to halt all executions until these problems can be addressed?”

Nearly three-fourths of the respondents, 72.4 percent, told interviewers they would support the governor taking such an action.

It is significant that in the past five years not one recommendation made by the Kentucky team of legal experts to fix the system has been implemented. And the percentage of Kentuckians willing to support a governor’s decision to halt executions has increased by 10 percent.

No wonder then that these writers who worked for years in this system now conclude

These poll results make it clear that Kentuckians’ concerns about the fairness of the state’s criminal justice system are growing. Replacing the death penalty with life without parole is the best approach for our state — protecting public safety, providing justice to the families of victims, removing the possibility that an innocent person will be executed and saving limited tax dollars.

Graphic: KCADP using data from the poll by the University of Kentucky Survey Research Center, 2016, ±3.8% margin of error

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