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Courier-Journal supports Kentucky Supreme Court’s decision, which put brakes on AG Conway’s apparent ‘rush to carrying out death sentences’

From the Louisville Courier-Journal’s editorial on Nov. 28, “A useful moratorium“:

The most important consequence of the court’s ruling should be to put the brakes on any rush to carrying out death sentences in Kentucky by any method. State Attorney General Jack Conway appeared launched on such a course when he asked the Governor earlier this week to set execution dates for three convicted murderers.Mr. Conway and Gov. Beshear have an obligation to enforce state law, but there is no rationale to be in a hurry. All of the crimes committed by the three men occurred at least 18 years ago. Nor would seeking to carry out a few executions in the near future be an appropriate response to a Courier-Journal study earlier this month that noted that only three of 92 Kentucky inmates sentenced to death since capital punishment was reinstated in 1976 have been executed.

The lengthy and sometimes successful appeals of death sentences reflect obvious problems in convictions at the trial court level. That is why a better response to the state’s death-row dilemma is the moratorium on executions in Kentucky sought by the American Bar Association. During that time, the ABA proposes, a 10-member team of state lawyers and former judges could study a range of critical issues, ranging from training of prosecutors and defense lawyers, to the handling of DNA evidence, to the treatment of racial and ethnic minorities and of mental retardation and mental illness.

That is a far more fruitful response to what is obviously a badly flawed system in Kentucky than would be a false urgency to carry out a showcase execution. The delay ordered by the Supreme Court should be used to advance such a study.

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