In a recent poll conducted by the University of Kentucky Survey Research Center, nearly two-thirds, 64 percent, of Kentuckians agreed that the punishment of life without parole should replace the death penalty. They were asked to consider that victim family members had to wait years not knowing when the execution would be carried out, but that life without parole provided family members immediate justice and the satisfaction that the murderer’s sentence had begun. Their agreement that life without parole provides greater benefit to family members is supported by the facts.
In a column published by the Courier-Journal in November 2015, Ben Griffith, whose brother was murdered, said it is “healthier” to live in a state without the death penalty.
Is it any wonder that a 2012 study conducted on the well-being of homicide survivors found that those who lived in a state where the ultimate penalty was life without parole fared much better than those in a state with the death penalty? (Assessing the Impact of the Ultimate Penalty Sanction on Homicide Survivors: A Two State Comparison. Amour, Marilyn Peterson and Umbreit, Mark S., Marquette Law Review, Fall 2012. Vol. 96, Article 3.) This difference in our well-being has every connection to the difference in how long the justice system takes to find final resolution. Appeals to life without parole are resolved in a couple of years on average. Compared to the decades-long averages of resolving death penalty appeals in death penalty states, survivors in life without parole states are more able to find a way forward. This is a big reason why I fight for the abolition of the death penalty in Kentucky. It is healthier!
Respondents were also aware that Kentucky’s death penalty system isn’t working. The majority agreed that we can still punish severely by locking people away for life, without parole, what some call “death by incarceration.”
No matter what you call it, most Kentuckians agree that we are far better off ending the death penalty and replacing it with life without parole as a more cost effective, yet severe, punishment that is healthier for victims, does not risk executing the innocent and restores credibility to a broken system.
Graphic: created by KCADP using data provided by the University of Kentucky Survey Research Center