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Death penalty series in Kentucky New Era highlights problems

As the General Assembly was finishing its last day, the Kentucky New Era was publishing the last of three articles about the death penalty in Kentucky. These reports highlighted problems with the administration of the death penalty; looked into its high costs, including the emotional cost to those involved with the killing, and explained why KCADP believes abolition in Kentucky is drawing nearer and nearer.

You can read the three articles by clicking here. This will require a PDF reader. The PDF files were supplied by the writer of the articles.

From the Monday-Tuesday, March 27-28, 2017 edition of the Kentucky New Era story “Is the death penalty a failing system”

“It can hardly be said that we are picking out the worst of the worst,” he said. “Instead it’s more random.”

Lewis asserted death sen- tences have more to do with geography and whether a particular prosecutor chooses to seek the death penalty and whether the county supports it.

“What ends up happening is … it’s reserved for the poor, for the mentally ill and minority groups,” he said.

From the Wednesday, March 29, 2017 edition of the Kentucky New Era story “Death penalty comes with a high price tag”

A May 2015 study from the Legislative Services Agency for the Indiana General Assembly concluded the average cost of a capital murder jury trial was $789,581 versus an average cost of $185,422 for a jury trial when life without parole was the goal of the prosecution. That’s nearly a 326 percent increase to sentence someone to death. A Duke University economist professor, Philip J. Cook, determined in a 2009 study that North Carolina would save $11 million a year by abolishing the death penalty. [Ernie] Lewis said he has testified at legislative hearings in Kentucky on the cost and believes the legal system in the state is spending $8 to $10 million on death penalty cases every year. He said he believes those numbers are close to accurate, but stressed they are based on the information he has available to him.

From the Friday, March 31, 2017 edition of the Kentucky New Era story “Death penalty not a partisan issu”

… However, Rev. Patrick Delahanty, chair and volunteer director of the Kentucky Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty, said he saw progress toward abolition, and that “it’s not a clear cut partisan issue.”

For the past two sessions, in the House, the sponsor of the bill to abolish the death penalty was a Republican, he said. This year, House Bill 251, sponsored by Rep. Jason Nemes, R-Louisville, sought to abolish the death penalty and replace it with life without parole for anyone currently sentenced to death.

“(HB 251) had 18 co-sponsors, which is the most we’ve ever gotten on an abolition bill,” Delahanty said.

Of the 18 people signed onto the bill, seven of  those, including Nemes, were Republicans.

Photo and graphics: Pat Delahanty

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