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Wethington: “We need to get rid of the death penalty.”

Judge Jay Wethington

“We need to get rid of the death penalty,” said Davies Circuit Judge Jay Wethington in a story printed in  Hopkinsville’s Kentucky New Era. His statement comes at a time when support and use of the death penalty is falling: prosecutors are seeking death less often, juries are not imposing the death sentence in trials calling for it and lethal injection challenges have practically brought a halt to executions. In fact, criminal justice reform on a larger scale is attracting the attention of Kentucky policy makers.

Governor Matt Bevin has appointed a 23-member committee – The Criminal Justice Policy Assessment Council – to study Kentucky’s penal code and make recommendations about changes in it that the General Assembly could put into law in 2017.


According to the article Bevin said,

The purpose of this council is to address the fact that we know incarcerations have been on the rise, drug use and drug overdoses have been on the rise, recidivism has been on the rise. We’ve had so many issues that we know about … but what is it we are actually doing to minimize these increasing numbers?

As a former Commonwealth attorney Wethington prosecuted death penalty cases, so he is no soft-on-crime advocate, but a smart-on-crime realist. The article quotes him saying,

We spend too much money for the results. Some (death penalty) cases can be quite costly for the results.

Wethington sees an added benefit to the nation. He pointed out that after it abolishes the death penalty the U. S. will be eligible to participate in the International Criminal Court and noted,

We’re the only First World country with the death penalty.

Here’s the list of names of those who serve on the CJPAC. If you know a member of the committee, please contact him or her and urge that their deliberations include consideration of abolishing the death penalty in Kentucky.

  • Chairman John Tilley, Secretary of the Justice and Public Safety Cabinet
  • Sen. Whitney Westerfield, R-Hopkinsville, Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee
  • Rep. Darryl Owens, D-Louisville, Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee
  • Derrick Ramsey, Secretary of the Labor Cabinet
  • Sen. John Schickel, R-Union
  • Sen. Morgan McGarvey, D-Louisville
  • Rep. Denny Butler, R-Louisville
  • Rep. Chris Harris, D-Forest Hills
  • Dr. Allen Brenzel, Department of Behavioral Health, Cabinet for Health and Family Services
  • Judge David A. Tapp, 28th Judicial Circuit Court, Division 1
  • Judge-Executive Tommy Turner, LaRue County
  • Amy Milliken, Warren County Attorney
  • Courtney Baxter, Commonwealth’s Attorney for Oldham, Henry, Trimble counties
  • Rick Sanders, Kentucky State Police Commissioner
  • Damon Preston, Deputy Public Advocate, Department of Public Advocacy
  • Russell Coleman, Spokesman for Kentucky Smart on Crime
  • Tom Jensen, Attorney, retired Judge and former Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee
  • Anthony Smith, Executive Director of Cities United
  • Jason Woosley, Grayson County Jailer
  • Bob Russell, Retired Senior Minister of Southeast Christian Church
  • Bishop William Medley, Diocese of Owensboro
  • Dave Adkisson, President and CEO of the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce
  • Justice Daniel J. Venters, Supreme Court of Kentucky, 3rd District

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