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Carl Wedekind, leader in Ky.’s death penalty abolitionist movement, dies

Carl Wedekind

Carl Wedekind

Carl Wedekind, former director of Kentucky’s Abolition NOW campaign and board member of the Kentucky Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty, died early this morning. Our thoughts and prayers are with Carl’s wife, Stephanie, and his other family members and friends.

Carl led us in the Abolition 2000 campaign, raising money to hire staff for the first time and pushing hard to abolish the death penalty in Kentucky. His energy on the issue was ignited by Harold McQueen’s execution in 1997.

Following that event he wrote The Second Grave, a history of violence in the commonwealth, and in 2000 a memoir of the campaign to end the death penalty, Politics, Religion and Death: Memoir of a Lobbyist.

In 2010 the National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty honored Carl for his dedication to the issue at its annual conference. The speech that Pat Delahanty, KCADP’s chair, gave introducing Carl is available on our website.

In 2008 Carl appeared on KET’s “One to One with Bill Goodman” to discuss his opposition to the death penalty and work in Frankfort as a lobbyist for abolition. Video of his 30-minute appearance is available online.

Carl also served on the board of the ACLU of Kentucky and on the national ACLU board and its executive committee.

For this website, each member of KCADP’s board was asked to give his or her reason for supporting this cause. Here’s Carl’s:

Killing is wrong. It is wrong whether I do it or the state does it. Each of us shares a responsibility for what the state does and that is why I joined KCADP and work with others to abolish the death penalty in Kentucky.

It’s a rare person who can combine dedication about and sharp insight into such a serious cause with a wonderful sense of humor; Carl was just such a person. In countless emails, trips to Frankfort, and board meetings, Carl added a much needed touch of levity, all the while keeping the focus on abolition. He will be missed.

Photo: Bill Sheets Photography

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