Skip to content


Kentucky writers urge moratorium on death penalty

Thirty-nine Kentucky writers sent letters to Gov. Steve Beshear and Attorney General and U.S. Senate candidate Jack Conway requesting they "send the death penalty in Kentucky into remission."

Thirty-nine Kentucky writers sent letters to Gov. Steve Beshear and Attorney General candidate Jack Conway requesting they "send the death penalty in Kentucky into remission."

Author Wendell Berry and former Kentucky Poet Laureate Sena Jeter Naslund are among 39 writers seeking a moratorium on executions in Kentucky.

In letters sent yesterday to Gov. Steve Beshear and Attorney General candidate Jack Conway, writers from across Kentucky asked for a temporary suspension of executions until an independent panel can assess the state’s death penalty system.

“This is a call for suspension, not abolition,” said Bobbi Buchanan, founding editor of New Southerner Magazine. “Kentucky has a strong community of writers, and we hope our collective voice will give this matter the attention it deserves,” Buchanan said.

“Many of us write because we’re impassioned by injustices. We’re drawn to the weak and the oppressed because we want to help them change and thrive. Capital punishment is one of the barriers to creating a more sustainable, peaceable world. The least we can do is halt executions in Kentucky until the system we use to select people to kill can be properly reviewed.”

The text of the letters and a full list of signers is after the jump.

Letter to Gov. Beshear

Dear Governor Beshear:

We are responsible citizens who believe in the rule of law and the fair administration of justice. We are concerned that a cluster of as many as five Kentucky Death Row cases could “mature” (to use a euphemism) in the very near future, creating the possibility of multiple executions in rapid succession. As a result, we think the implications of this prospect and its impact on our community must be examined and considered, and that we have an obligation to raise our voice on the issue of capital punishment.

We hope to send the death penalty in Kentucky into remission where it comfortably resided for 40 years from 1957 until 1997 when executions were resumed. There have been four executions in the last 53 years and two of the four inmates dropped their appeals and asked to be executed.

We believe it is right, just, and of the utmost importance that as Governor, you maintain the status quo while the death penalty usage in Kentucky is being assessed by an independent blue ribbon panel of experts and not sign any death warrants during this time if requested to do so by the Attorney General.

Letter to Attorney General Jack Conway

Dear Attorney General Conway:

We are responsible citizens who believe in the rule of law and the fair administration of justice. We are concerned that a cluster of as many as five Kentucky Death Row cases could “mature” (to use a euphemism) in the very near future, creating the possibility of multiple executions in rapid succession. As a result, we think the implications of this prospect and its impact on our community must be examined and considered, and that we have an obligation to raise our voice on the issue of capital punishment.

We hope to send the death penalty in Kentucky into remission where it comfortably resided for 40 years from 1957 until 1997 when executions were resumed. There have been four executions in the last 53 years and two of the four inmates dropped their appeals and asked to be executed.

We believe it is right, just, and of the utmost importance that as Attorney General, you maintain the status quo while the death penalty usage in Kentucky is being assessed by an independent blue ribbon panel of experts.

Sincerely,

  • Wendell Berry, essayist/novelist/poet
  • Eric Sutherland, poet
  • Sena Jeter Naslund, novelist/former Kentucky Poet Laureate
  • Kimberly Anderson, essayist/editor
  • Mary Ann Taylor-Hall, poet/novelist
  • Michael Jackman, poet/writer
  • Anne Shelby, essayist/storyteller/poet
  • Wanda Fries, poet
  • Crystal Wilkinson, poet/fiction writer
  • Sarah Gorham, poet/publisher
  • Frank X Walker, poet
  • Nancy Gall-Clayton, playwright
  • Erin Keane, poet/writer
  • Marianne Worthington, poet
  • Brett Eugene Ralph, poet
  • E. Gail Chandler, poet
  • Kathleen Driskell, poet
  • Mark Brown, poet
  • Cecilia Woloch, poet
  • Diana McQuady, novelist/essayist
  • Katy Yocom, novelist
  • Ellen Birkett Morris, poet/essayist
  • Karen McElmurray, novelist/memoirist
  • Aimee Zaring, novelist
  • Dianne Aprile, essayist
  • G.C. Compton, fiction writer
  • Ron Whitehead, poet/editor/publisher
  • Mary Popham, novelist/critic
  • Bobbi Buchanan, essayist/editor
  • Edward Leroy Burch, poet
  • Lynn Pruett, novelist/essayist
  • Becky Cochran, essayist
  • Leatha Kendrick, poet/novelist/screenwriter
  • Rae Cobbs, poet
  • Shirley Cochran Walls, journalist/fiction writer
  • Susan Christerson Brown, essayist
  • Leslie Smith Townsend, essayist/editor
  • D. Cameron Lawrence, essayist/novelist/poet
  • Christopher Helvey, fiction writer/editor

Tagged with , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , .


0 Responses

Stay in touch with the conversation, subscribe to the RSS feed for comments on this post.

You must be logged in to post a comment.



%d bloggers like this: