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Wendell Berry’s essay against the death penalty

Wendell Berry, renowned author and Kentucky farmer, has issued this eloquent statement expressing his opposition to the death penalty.

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3 Responses

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  1. Steve says

    Wise thoughts from one of Kentucky’s most well-respected citizens. Our politicians (talking about you Gov. Beshear and Atty. General Conway) would do well to listen to Berry.

  2. EndlessNameless says

    This is a travesty. As a Kentucky tax payer I say it’s well worth the money to see that these people never hurt another person. Ever.
    If that was my mother of father murdered by one of these people and they slid away from the death penalty it would be well worth life in prison or a death penalty for myself to make sure they were dead. The KCADP needs to be done away with. Who do they think they are?

    ‘The death penalty is inhumane!’ Oh, whatever. That kind of thought makes me so angry. The fact that these people committed the kinds of crimes that they did in the first place was inhumane.

    Costly? What world are you living in? You get just as many chances to appeal a life sentence as you do a death sentence. The death penalty is CHEAPER! And besides, what does cost have to do with justice? The costly part is keeping people in prison for life sentences.

    Out of step with modern thinking? Who’s modern thinking? Yours? So you pretend to know how the rest of the state thinks? Shame on you.

    Risky? This is the only part of the death penalty that worries me in the least. Putting an innocent person to death. But this is why inmates stay on death row for so long. If you can’t prove yourself innocent in 20 years then you are guilty. Plain and simple.

    Unfair, broken and arbitrary? Unfair to who? The inmate? Was it fair to their victims to be murdered? Broken? How? May as well take that one out of there. Arbitrary? What is this supposed to mean? Arbitrary means unintended. You don’t execute someone unintentionally.

    Unnecessary? Just like the murder of the victims was unnecessary. Bull!

    And this last one, Victim’s families deserve better. This is the one that gets to me the most. If someone were to hurt my family in such a way they will die. I don’t care if it’s state sanctioned or not. I would see to that. That seems most fair to me.

    You people need to grow up and see the world for what it really is. It’s not a cushy playground. And these criminals are not living in a cushy playground world. The only thing about this that needs abolishing is uncredited and childish thinking like this.

    What is this world coming to? This is an absolute outrage.

  3. Zach Everson says

    Thanks for your comment, EndlessNameless. Let me address your concerns in order. Follow the links on for more info on a particular subject, along with references if you want to fact check.

    KCADP agrees–the crimes these people committed are inhumane. Most of our members believe, however, that society shouldn’t stoop to their level and solve violence with more killing. Kentucky juries have the option of sentencing people to live in jai without parole.

    It’s counterintuitive I know, but the death penalty does cost more than life in prison without parole. The checks and balances required to make sure that the state is correct if it’s going to take a person’s life cost a lot more to implement than if the sentence is life in jail without parole. It’s estimated that death penalty costs can average $10 million more per year per state than life sentences.

    I agree that cost shouldn’t matter when it comes to justice, but states can only spend a certain amount on crime prevention. Money spent on the appeals process for the death penalty could be better spent on preventing crime in the first place–by hiring more police officers, better enforcing restraining orders, or ordering GPS units to monitor sex offenders. In a survey, police chiefs ranked the death penalty as their lowest priority when fighting crime.

    Out of step with modern thinking
    KCADP does not pretend to know what other people thinks. Here’s some data that proves Kentuckians don’t approve of the death penalty:
    -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
    -No Kentucky jury has returned a death sentence since December 2006.
    -In 2007, 108 cases were potentially eligible for the death penalty. No death sentences were returned. [Official assessment made by the Legislative Research Commission for the Kentucky General Assembly]

    Texas executed the innocent Cameron Todd Willingham.

    Unfair, broken and arbitrary
    The death penalty is unfair: A person who murders a white person is more likely to get it than someone who murders a person of another race. The death penalty is arbitrary: only 3 percent (92 out of 3,066) of the nation’s counties account for 50 percent of its death sentences. And just today the Kentucky Supreme Court gave more evidence about how broken the death penalty system is.

    Study after study has proven that the death penalty does not deter crime. In fact, per the FBI the states that execute the most also have the highest murder rate.

    Victim’s families deserve better
    Many family members do not want the state to kill in their names. At least three members of KCADP’s board are family members of murder victims. The head of the Murder Victims’ Families For Human Rights daughter was killed in the Oklahoma City. The appeals needed in the death penalty system to try and prevent innocent people from being killed mean that victim’s family members are subjected to endless court dates. And psychologists believe that ” witnessing executions not only fails to provide closure but also often causes symptoms of acute stress.”

    Again, for more information, please visit You’ll see that our position isn’t childish, but rather based on facts and reason.

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