The Courier-Journal published the work of four columnists and a timeline of recent Kentucky history and the death penalty on Sunday in its Forum section. The columnists comprised a group of “unusual” suspects, not the kind of folks associated with opposition to the death penalty: a former executioner and dean at a university, a victim family member whose brother was murdered, a Republican, Southern Baptist state representative and a former staff member of the National Rifle Association.
State Rep. David Floyd from Bardstown has many reasons for opposing the death penalty, having abandoned his previous support for it. In the article written for the Courier-Journal, he focuses on its cost. Friends will approach him and say, “Just kill ’em; it’s cheaper.” Fortunately, Rep. Floyd is a thoughtful man, and studious, which is why he responds:
It’s counterintuitive, but taxpayers spend far more on our system of capital punishment than we would if the death penalty were not an option. Every study undertaken in the U.S. concludes that our death penalty system is far more costly than a criminal justice system in which the maximum sentence is life without the possibility of parole.
He cites some of the facts gleaned as he has studied this issue over the years and spells out for the reader just why death penalty trials and the subsequent appeals are costly and necessary. Necessary, primarily, to make sure the state does not execute innocent persons. In the end, in answer to the question – why is the death penalty a bad investment for Kentucky – Rep. Floyd concludes:
Why is the death penalty a bad investment for Kentucky? After spending hundreds of millions of dollars on the death penalty since 1976, we are left with the following results: a) the majority of those sentenced to death in Kentucky had their death sentences reversed by the courts; b) in the majority of cases in which the death penalty was sought, judges and juries imposed sentences other than death; and c) only 3 percent of those sentenced to death actually die from execution. Given the high cost of maintaining this system and the results it yields, is this not a bad investment for Kentucky?
To read all that Rep. Floyd has to say please click here.