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Death penalty exoneree, legislators call for end to death penalty in Kentucky

On Feb. 4, death row exoneree Kirk Bloodsworth joined Kentucky legislators at a news conference to call for the abolition of capital punishment in Kentucky. Besides reporters, representatives from the ACLU of Kentucky, the Catholic Conference of Kentucky, Murder Victims’ Family Members for Reconciliation and The Kentucky Council of Churches were there. KCADP appreciates their presence and also thanks State Senator Perry Clark and State Representatives Jim Wayne and Addia Wuchner for their support and attendance.

Kirk Bloodsworth speaks with reporters about his years on death row and how DNA exonerated him.

Kirk Bloodsworth speaks with reporters about his years on death row and how DNA exonerated him.

Bloodsworth, the first person in the nation exonerated from death row through post-conviction DNA testing, served more than eight years following his conviction in Maryland for the sexual assault and murder of a 9-year-old girl. Two of those years were on death row.

His exoneration followed DNA testing on evidence collected at the crime scene that incontrovertibly established his innocence.

“Two juries were wrong,” Bloodsworth said. “Two judges were wrong. The state of Maryland was wrong. …I am not here because the system worked. I am here because a series of miracles happened.”

Bloodsworth is a member of Witness to Innocence, a nonprofit organization of death row exonerees that educate the public about innocence and wrongful convictions in capital cases. To date 150 former death row inmates have been exonerated. More information about his experience can be found on the Witness To Innocence site.

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Rep. David Floyd, sponsor of HB 82 and HCR 30

Joining Bloodsworth on Wednesday were state Sen. Gerald Neal and state Rep. David Floyd, who have filed bills in their respective chambers (Senate Bill 15 and House Bill 82) to abolish the death penalty and replace it with life imprisonment without parole for inmates currently sentenced to death and allow life without parole for offenses now classified as capital offenses.

“If you support the death penalty, come and shake hands with this man, who was wrongly convicted,” Floyd said. “We have a system that condemns to death the innocent as well as the guilty. Reasonable people will cry for change.”

The legislators also addressed resolutions they have filed (Senate Concurrent Resolution 11 and House Concurrent Resolution 32) to establish a task force to study the costs of administering the death penalty in Kentucky.

Sen. Neal

Sen. Gerald Neal, sponsor of SB 15 and SCR 11

“It is my obligation – as it is for others – to properly manage the taxpayers’ money, and we would not be fulfilling our responsibility as good stewards were we not to ascertain the costs associated with the death penalty and the impact it has on the state’s revenue,” Neal said.

Bloodsworth’s week-long tour in Kentucky is sponsored by Witness to Innocence, the ACLU of Kentucky, and the Kentucky Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty.

The following links take readers to the articles published following the news conference. Remember that often links to these kinds of materials change and/or expire.

The AP story ran in many newspapers and was reported on TV news programs as far away as Seattle.

Last Saturday, the Ky Standard used the news conference as a jumping off point to report further on the effort of Rep. Floyd to move his legislation.

The #KYRepeal Campaign is grateful to these lawmakers and their colleagues who have begun to co-sponsor these bills. Click on the bill numbers above to see who the co-sponsors are. You can reach your state legislators at the toll free number: 1.800.372.7181. Messages left with legislative staff are delivered directly to your state senators and representatives.

Photos: ©2015 Riverbirch Productions, used with permission.

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