In the wake of last week’s American Bar Association’s damning assessment of Kentucky’s death penalty, the Owensboro Messenger-Inquirer’s editorial board called for the state to abolish capital punishment altogether. From its editorial, “Death penalty: Justice or vengeance?” (subscription or payment may be required):
The American Bar Association released a report last week that will hopefully do more than just suspend the death penalty in Kentucky…
The original argument for the death penalty was that it was the ultimate deterrent from violent offenses that usually involve premeditated murder or killing someone while committing another crime.
When those crimes occur, the person responsible should be brought to justice. But it’s clear by the murders that happen in this state year after year that no one is deterred. To us, the deterrent argument is no longer valid — if it ever was.
With the millions of dollars spent each year on a lengthy appeals process, it’s been proven that the cost is significantly higher to incarcerate death row inmates than to have them spend life in jail.
So if the death penalty isn’t a deterrent and it’s not cost effective, what are we really trying to accomplish? It boils down to vengeance. And when that form of justice is applied to an innocent person, there’s no reversing it once the lethal injection is given.
Given the new facts of the American Bar Association’s report and the understanding that executions offer no benefit to society, the state has both legal and moral grounds to make this the perfect time to abolish the death penalty.
The Messenger-Inquirer is right—Kentucky’s death penalty is too broken to fix. It needs to be abolished.