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Kentucky Getting Ready to Execute Again

UPDATED FEBRUARY 17; SEE LIST OF SUGGESTED COMMENT TOPICS BELOW

The Coalition has learned that the Kentucky Department of Corrections (DOC) is getting ready to execute again and has issued its new administrative regulation governing how the state will carry out its deadly practice. However, before the new administrative regulation  becomes effective the Department must allow a time for public comment.

To fulfill the law, DOC has scheduled a public hearing on the administrative regulation for February 22 at 9:00 a.m. at the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet Building, Room C118, 200 Mero Street in Frankfort. All those wishing to speak at this important hearing need to notify the agency by this Thursday, February 15, of their intention to be heard.

Those who cannot get to Frankfort to speak may submit written comments about any aspect of the regulation. All written comments must be submitted by February 28.

Send your intention to speak at the hearing or any written comments you have to AMY V. BARKER, ASSISTANT GENERAL COUNSEL, JUSTICE AND PUBLIC SAFETY CABINET, 125 HOLMES STREET, FRANKFORT, KY 40601. You may also email your intent to speak or your comments to justice.regscontact@ky.gov. To fax this information use this number: (502)564-6686. The office number is (502)564-3279 if you have questions.

Anyone can comment on any aspect of the material in this document. However, do not do the following: argue the merits of the death penalty. All comments that simply argue the merits of having a death penalty will be disregarded.

You do not have to live in Kentucky to comment, so if you want to send this to friends, family and others living elsewhere who would comment, please do. The Department has to accept all comments related to the regulation, even if people are repeating what others have written. The more comments received, the longer it takes for the Department to respond appropriately as it is requred by law to do. Delays like this mean that putting prisoners to death is also delayed.

If you comment, please, after sending in your comments to the Department, email a copy of what you said to the Coalition at kcadp3092@gmail.com. We will collect these and give them to attorneys who are representing death row inmates for their expected challenge to the regulation.

Here is the link to the proposed regulation. Remember, you can comment on as many parts of it as you like and you can share this link with others and ask them to comment by the February 28 deadline.

UPDATE: Here are some suggested areas of concern that readers may wish to use in responding to the Department of Corrections and the proposed regulation:

  • The protocol does not provide an opportunity for people sentenced to death to speak at the public hearing. Kentucky law mandates that “each person who wishes to offer comment” should be given an opportunity to speak. The people who will be most affected by the protocol should have the opportunity to comment on it.

  • The protocol prohibits media interviews with the condemned person on the day of the scheduled execution. The condemned person has the right to talk to the public about the process and the public has the right to gain information about the process through the media.

  • The protocol does not guarantee legal visits before 7:30 a.m. or after 2:30 p.m. before the day of the scheduled execution. During that critically important time, the condemned person must have more extensive access to counsel.

  • The protocol prohibits family and friends from visiting the condemned person on the day of the scheduled execution. The condemned person should be permitted to see their family and friends, and have contact visits with them, on that day.

  • The protocol prohibits family and friends from bringing any item to visits with the condemned person after the governor signs the execution warrant, which is usually 22 to 30 days before the scheduled execution. This prohibition stops family and friends from bringing even photographs to those visits.
  • The protocol allows the Warden to limit the condemned person’s clothing to one pair of underwear, one shirt, one pair of pants, and one pair of socks, once the execution date is set. Condemned people should not be forced to wear the same unwashed underwear and socks for 22 to 30 days or more.
  • The protocol prohibits the condemned person’s minister of record from visiting them during the two hours before the scheduled execution. For the death-sentenced people who want access to a spiritual advisor, they should be permitted access much closer to the scheduled execution.

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Letters to local newspapers important way to persuade lawmakers

On February 7 a letter from Sister Delores Kincaide, S.L. appeared in The Lebanon Enterprise urging support for House Bill 155. Should this bill pass and be signed by Governor Bevin Kentucky would no longer be able to kill people to show that killing people is wrong.

The reason for this post is to highlight the importance of such letters in influencing policy makers like members of the General Assembly and in the Executive branch of government. Office holders scan hometown newspapers to find out what their neighbors and constituents are thinking about policies like the execution of inmates.

Most weekly newspaper editors are delighted to publish readers’ thoughts about issues important to the community. Thus, Kentucky residents reading this post are encouraged to write a personal letter to the editor of the newspaper in your community in support of abolition of the death penalty, especially calling on your state representative to support passage of House Bill 155.

Clicking here will show you what Sr. Delores said. Or you can click here for more ideas about what you might want to include in your letter. Or visit this earlier post to see what another supporter, Eric Mount, wrote for his local newspaper, The Advocate-Messenger.

Click on this link to find a newspaper in your Kentucky community. Many allow you to offer your thoughts for the editor online.

Remember, working together we will abolish the death penalty in Kentucky.

To Leave a Message for Your STATE Lawmakers Call 800.372.7181

 

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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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