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Tell Kentucky’s Department of Corrections what you think about its lethal injection and electrocution protocols

The deadline for letting the Kentucky Department of Corrections know what you think about its lethal injection protocol is Feb. 1.

The deadline for letting the Kentucky Department of Corrections know what you think about its lethal injection protocol is Feb. 1.

Let Kentucky know what you think about how it kills people and wastes tax dollars in your name!

On Nov. 25 the Kentucky Supreme Court ruled that the commonwealth’s lethal injection and electrocution protocols were not legal. As a result, the Department of Corrections has to allow for public comments on the process for how it executes people.

Feb. 1 at 4:30 p.m. is the deadline for submitting your comments. Bizarrely for this day and age, the Department of Corrections is not accepting e-mails, just letters by mail or fax.

Comments should reference “Death penalty procedures” and be addressed to

Amy V. Barker
Assistant General Counsel
Department of Justice and Public Safety Cabinet
125 Holmes Street
Frankfort, KY 40601
Fax: 502-564-6686

But what should I write?

The Department of Corrections is required by law to read your letter and send you a substantive response, so your letter makes a big difference!

Read the complete lethal injection and electrocution protocols here and come up with your own comments. Or you can use these talking points and writing tips–but the most powerful letter is in your own voice.

Talking points:

  • Limiting the condemned person’s last words to just two minutes can deprive the victims’ family members of the closure they hope for, as can only allowing three of the victim’s family members to witness the execution.
  • Victims’ family members have the right to know how the Department of Corrections’ commissioner will choose which of them may witness an execution. Nothing in the protocol reveals the Commissioner’s criteria for selecting victim family members to witness the execution; nor allows victim family members to have any say in this decision other than to indicate an interest in being a witness.
  • The regulations interfere with inmates’ ability to meet with their religious advisers and lawyers (spiritual advisers are banned from the execution chamber).
  • End-of-life religious ceremonies are not allowed. Requiring that a clergy visit on the day of the execution be a “non-contact” visit violates an inmate’s right to practice his or her faith and receive the sacrament of anointing.
  • The Department of Correction’s ability to control the time and location of any protests curtails the First Amendment right to fair speech.
  • The protocol limits the media’s ability to witness critical aspects of the procedures.
  • The protocols say the media can only use pens and paper provided by the Department of Corrections, but there’s no guarantee that they will be provided.
  • The protocol allows the warden to deny visitors access if they are security risks, but the vague language never defines the criteria for a security risk.
  • The press is not allowed to video and record protesters.
  • We have a right to know how much Kentucky is spending on the execution process, especially during our current budget crisis when the state is cutting services and laying off employees. The Department of Corrections has failed to provide a complete analysis of the costs for executing a person.
  • Why can the Department of Corrections use a drug to paralyze inmates (pancuronium bromide) that’s too cruel for veterinarians to use on cats and dogs? And why must the condemned be paralyzed in the first place? To conceal a botched execution?
  • There’s no provision for women, such as the list of allowed items in the cell for the condemned’s last days of life don’t include feminine hygiene products or other female health products.
  • There’s no mention of how female prisoners are to be transferred to and housed in the all-male Eddyville prison, which holds the state’s only execution chambers.
  • The executed person’s attorney, the public, and the media are not allowed to view government records pertaining to the execution afterward.
  • Not accepting e-mails; scheduling just one hearing; having that session in the middle of the state on a workday; not having a copy of the regulations in Spanish, Braille, or non-legalese English; requiring speakers to register; and doing a poor job of publicizing the comment period, denies Kentuckians the right of redress of grievances.

Writing tips:

  • Unlike a letter to the editor, feel free to make your letter as long as you want.
  • Don’t worry about your grammar–all that matters is getting your thoughts on paper and getting them to Kentucky’s Department of Corrections by Feb 1.
  • KCADP would love to read your thoughts–please e-mail a copy of your letter to staff@kcadp.org

If you do not receive a response or feel that your comments were not addressed, let KCADP know!

Deliver your comments in person on Jan. 29

The Department of Corrections also scheduled a one-day public hearing for Jan. 29 at 9 a.m. EST. The more speakers the better.

To comment, however, Amy V. Barker must have received written notification of your intent to do so at the previous address or fax by Jan. 22.

The meeting will be held at the Transportation Cabinet Building’s Auditorium:

200 Mero St.
Frankfort, KY 40601
(Click here for directions.)

If you want to comment in person but cannot do so because of the inconvenient location or time of the meeting, please contact KCADP at staff@kcadp.org to let us know of your interest. And please give us your contact information in case we need to speak to you.

Thank you!

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2 Responses

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  1. David says

    Full regulations/procedures on executions can be found at the following links. Each link is to a different part of the regulation.

    definition section – http://www.lrc.state.ky.us/kar/501/016/001reg.htm

    preliminary and post execution procedures involving condemned inmate – http://www.lrc.state.ky.us/kar/501/016/290reg.htm

    procecures concerning visitors, protestors, and witnesses – http://www.lrc.state.ky.us/kar/501/016/300reg.htm

    pre-execution medical actions – http://www.lrc.state.ky.us/kar/501/016/310reg.htm

    execution team qualifications – http://www.lrc.state.ky.us/kar/501/016/320reg.htm

    lethal injection protocol – http://www.lrc.state.ky.us/kar/501/016/330reg.htm

    electrocution protocol – http://www.lrc.state.ky.us/kar/501/016/340reg.htm

  2. Zach Everson says

    The link to the protocols in the text of the post now contains the complete regulations.



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