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Courier-Journal’s editorial board: ‘Abandon capital punishment’

Louisville newspaper is right in wanting Kentucky’s death penalty abolished, but wrong in thinking it’d be difficult politically for the state legislature

In an editorial on Sunday, “Death penalty delays,” the Louisville Courier-Journal‘s editorial board argues that Kentucky should abolish the death penalty:

The best step for Kentucky — one that would require political courage — is simply to abandon capital punishment in favor of wider use of life sentences without possibility of parole.

While KCADP obviously agrees that the state should abolish the death penalty, doing so won’t take that much political courage–in a 2006 poll conducted by the University of Kentucky Survey Center, 67 percent of Kentuckians questioned preferred a long prison sentence to execution for those convicted of aggravated murder. And out of 108 cases eligible for the death penalty in Kentucky in 2007, no death sentences were returned.

The citizens of Kentucky do not want the death penalty.

A moratorium is needed–now

KCADP disagrees, however, with the Courier-Journal’s assertion that an exeuction is “not likely to happen anytime soon.” As the paper notes, 13 inmates having been on Kentucky’s death row for more than 20 years. At some point in the near future–for reasons having to do more with the county where the crime occurred, the races of those involved, and the competence of the defense attorney than with justice or the misguided notion that exeuction equals closure–Kentucky probably will kill another person.

Kentucky’s broken death penalty system should not be considered a de facto moratorium. The commonwealth should place an immediate moratorium on executions while our lawmakers in Frankfort work toward abolition.

Courier-Journal’s rationale for abolition: Costly, unnecessary, and victims’ families deserve better

The Courier-Journal‘s editorial board supported its position by citing those old standbys–the death penalty is costly, unnecessary and unfair to victims’ families:

  • “Kentucky spends $8 million a year prosecuting, defending and incarcerating death-row prisoners — even at a time of crushing budget shortfalls and cutbacks”
  • “Many death-penalty advocates have retreated from the argument that capital punishment is a deterrent to murder, since there is scant evidence to support that claim.”
  • “Cases that drag on for 20 or even 30 years without final resolution are likely to add to the hurt of victims’ families, not comfort them.”

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