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New voices calling for repeal of death penalty in Kentucky

Honorable Steve Ryan



It’s not every day that a judge who has sentenced someone to death and a prosecutor who successfully tried death penalty cases call for abolition of the death penalty. But in the past two weeks, the Lexington Herald-Leader and the Courier-Journal have both published an article signed by three former prosecutors calling for an end to the use of the death penalty in Kentucky.

Joseph Gutmann

They note that three years have passed since the American Bar Association released a report “revealing serious problems related to fairness and accuracy in the use of the death penalty in Kentucky.”

Before becoming a circuit court judge, Steve Ryan worked as a prosecutor in Jefferson County. Joe Gutmann is a former Jefferson County assistant Commonwealth Attorney and J. Stewart “Stew” Schneider was an elected Commonwealth Attorney in Boyd County.


“Stew” Schneider

Their article, available in it’s entirety by clicking here or on the newspaper names above, summarizes some of the concerns raised by the report cited.

They point out that no action has been taken to address these concerns. The death sentencing process with all its flaws remains broken in Kentucky. They write:

Without question, this is a difficult issue, and efforts to “fix” the death penalty in Kentucky will be costly and time-consuming.

But there is one approach that is simpler and less expensive: Abolish the death penalty and replace it with life in prison without parole for convicted offenders.

A growing number of legislators agree with them. Sen. Gerald Neal and Rep. David Floyd have pre-filed bills in their respective chambers calling for this solution: repeal the death penalty and in its place keep life without parole as the harshest penalty in Kentucky.

Constituents should contact their legislators and discuss these bills with them. In your conversations or other contacts with legislators provide them with a copy of this article by clicking here and a copy of the article by Dean Allen Ault, a professor at EKU and former Corrections’ commissioner in Georgia where he says he “murdered” five men for the state. Click here for Dean Ault’s article.

Supporters are urged to share the link to this post on Facebook pages and to tweet, post, text and email it to others. Educating the people of Kentucky will lead to abolition and restore credibility to our justice system.

Photos: we thank the authors for their photos.

Here’s an added treat – Stew Schneider is a contributor to our YouTube channel and here’s what he has to say:



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