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One-day hearing not adequate to comment and ask questions about lethal injection and electrocution regulations


KCADP board member Carl Wedekind

In a letter to Amy V. Barker, assistant general counsel at Kentucky’s Department of Justice and Public Safety Cabinet, KCADP board member Carl Wedekind, explains why the Department of Corrections’ one-day hearing did not allow Kentucky citizens an adequate opportunity to comment on the commonwealth’s lethal injection ad electrocution regulations.

Dear Ms. Barker,

I write as a citizen of Kentucky to call your attention to the fact that a
one day hearing in Frankfort as proposed is not adequate for the citizens of
Kentucky to review, comment, and ask questions about the proposed Lethal
Injection & Electrocution Regulations.

We have not only the First Amendment rights of speech, assembly,
and petition, but also Eighth Amendment concerns of cruel and unusual
punishment to be considered.

For Kentucky citizens to have a reasonably adequate opportunity to be
heard on these regulations the following should be considered:

  1. Holding hearings (that may be extended beyond one day) in the
    major population centers of Louisville, Lexington, Northern Kentucky, and
    Western Kentucky;
  2. Advertising the proposed regulations in media covering those areas
    in advance of the hearings, including a lay person’s guide to the proposed
    regulations in plain, non-legalize language;
  3. Accepting email comments, and making foreign language
    translations of the proposed regulations when requested.
    I understand that the one hearing that has been scheduled meets the
    minimum requirements of the Kentucky statutes, but in this situation I
    submit that is not reasonably adequate.

The Eighth Amendment prohibits cruel and unusual punishment by
the state, and the Supreme Court of the United States has stated that this
amendment “draws its meaning from the evolving standards of decency that
mark the progress of a maturing society.” Trop v. Dulles, 356 U.S. 86, 99

The evolving standard of decency has matured in the past one
hundred years in Kentucky from the violence of hanging in capital cases to
electrocution, and from the violence of electrocution to lethal injection. The
next progression is not yet known. I recognize that courts have upheld
execution by lethal injection, but if these proposed regulations are attacked
as unconstitutional the court will necessarily look once again to the
community’s evolving standard of decency.

I submit that the Eighth Amendment places on the Department of
Corrections a need to learn the Kentucky community’s standard of decency
as to the proposed regulations, and it is as much in the interest of the
Department as it is in my interest as a citizen, that an adequate and open
hearing process be established.

Read about how you can tell Kentucky’s Department of Corrections what you think about its lethal injection and electrocution protocols.

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