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All signs point to death penalty’s demise

scales_justiceThe U. S. Supreme Court is considering a case out of Oklahoma regarding the use of a particular drug. It’s impossible to know what the Court will decide, but its decision to address the constitutionality of midazolam, which is used in only a handful of states, is completely appropriate given the drug’s use in a number of recent botched executions.

It’s important to recognize, however, that no matter the drug used in executions, the death penalty is broken beyond repair. It’s extremely costly, the long drawn-out process inflicts more pain and suffering on grieving families and we can never completely eliminate the possibility of execution an innocent person. The simple truth is that the death penalty cannot be fixed and the only solution is to replace it with life in prison without the possibility of parole.


Shekinah Lavalle

Shekinah Lavalle

Outreach Coordinator Shekinah Lavalle led a highly successful campaign during the past legislative session which brought together lawmakers, victim family members and persons exonerated after proving their wrongful convictions. These meetings ordinarily took place on Wednesdays during the session, but also occurred at other times convenient for lawmakers. Several legislators expressed that their support for the death penalty was waning and they had many concerns about the system as it functions now. Others clearly voiced support and are now ready to vote for abolishing this penalty and keeping in place life without parole or pardon (LWOP).

Meetings will continue during these months when the General Assembly is not in session. Shekinah will be working to arrange meetings and if any reader wants to work with her you should email her or give her a call at 502.636.1330.


Sabrina-ButlerThe ACLU of Kentucky sponsored another Witness To Innocence tour since the session ended. This tour drew record crowds who came out to listen to Sabrina Butler describe her nightmarish experience of being sentenced to death in a Mississippi courtroom. Listeners described her story as heartbreaking.

In questionnaires collected after the presentation it was not unusual to find participants who said they supported the death penalty before hearing her story now saying, “[Her story] opened my eyes to make me actually understand more about death penalty and how unfair it is for many.” This writer also noted that her views had changed and that she now believes the system is broken, cannot be fixed and should be abolished.

The ACLU of Kentucky and KCADP are working to bring additional exonerees into the state to describe their victimization at the hands of a state government. The number of wrongfully convicted exonerees who were sentenced to death now numbers 152 persons. The exact number of innocent persons executed is not known.

Photo: Scales of Justice – Flickr/Citizensheep;  

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