Today’s Supreme Court ruling regarding the use of midazolam in executions will have no immediate effect on Kentucky because Kentucky has no protocol in place and is unable to execute anyone at this time.
This ruling allowing the use of midazolam in executions ignores the fact that the death penalty is falling into disuse across the country. In Kentucky, the American Bar Association Assessment report highlights flaw after flaw in the system Kentucky employs to kill prisoners.
The administration of the death penalty is extremely costly; the long and drawn-out process inflicts more pain and suffering on grieving families; and it is impossible to completely eliminate the execution of an innocent person.
The simple truth is that the death penalty cannot be fixed and that the only solution is to replace the death penalty with a sentence of life in prison without parole as Senator Gerald Neal (D) and Representative David Floyd (R) have proposed in bills they introduced in past legislative sessions.
In 1976, the Court thought that the constitutional infirmities in the death penalty could be healed; the Court in effect delegated significant responsibility to the States to develop procedures that would protect against those constitutional problems. Almost 40 years of studies, surveys, and experience strongly indicate, however, that this effort has failed. Today’s administration of the death penalty involves three fundamental constitutional defects: (1) serious unreliability, (2) arbitrariness in application, and (3) unconscionably long delays that undermine the death penalty’s penological purpose. Perhaps as a result, (4) most places within the United States have abandoned its use.
The time for repeal in Kentucky is now.
Cartoon: used with permission of the artist, Marc Murphy