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Support for death penalty drops below 50%

new poll from the Pew Research Center found that support for the use of the death penalty dropped to 49 percent nationwide, the lowest level of support in more than 40 years.  We have already seen this trend in Kentucky. Earlier this year the University of Kentucky Survey Research Center polled Kentuckians not only on their support or opposition to the death penalty, but also about their attitudes regarding its expense when compared to life without parole, its failure to provide fair and constitutional trials to defendants evidenced by Kentucky’s error rate of more than 60%, and the pain it causes victim family members who endure the long wait before sentences are carried out. Given these realities, an overwhelming majority of Kentuckians said they prefer life without parole as the maximum penalty for capital murder.

KCADP continues to need your financial support to make sure we have the resources to carry out the campaign in Kentucky. We also need your voice. Please keep raising this important policy issue with friends, neighbors and family. Letters to editors in local newspapers really influence public opinion and announce the growing opposition to lawmakers. You can always reach those who represent you by calling 1.800.372.7181 and leaving your message for your State Senator and State Representative.

A great way to celebrate the result of this poll would be to use our DONATE link to make a $49.00 contribution. If that is not possible any contribution you make champions the cause and invests in a future when Kentucky will be death penalty free.

 

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Champion & Invest in KCADP

Tulio Tourinho-“Now is the time to champion and invest in KCADP,” writes Tulio Tourinho, a staunch KCADP supporter and officer with the Louisville Metro Police Department.

As a person sworn to uphold the law and protect the public, Officer Tourinho believes in respecting human life.

As an active duty police officer I am guided by my moral belief that human life is sacred and ultimately it is my responsibility to protect and serve that life. I believe that this extends to all life and that it doesn’t matter how “deserving” we believe someone is. Regardless of what someone has been convicted of, I believe it is wrong to kill even to demonstrate that killing is wrong. This is why I oppose the death penalty and believe that it should be repealed.

He then added,

In addition to my moral opposition to killing others, this system we use is incredibly expensive and consumes resources that could be better spent in ways that really make us safer. In Kentucky 60% of the cases that resulted in a death sentence were overturned by the courts. Faulty eyewitness evidence, prosecutorial misconduct, police mistakes, unprepared defense attorneys were some of the reasons these defendants were denied fair trials. We can and must do better.

He knows our need for money. KCADP has made great strides toward abolition, and recent polling data verify the progress we have made. Funding is still necessary to continue public education about how flawed the death penalty system is in this state. We also need money to pay for the cost of maintaining our presence on the internet through this website and our social media tools. We are also contracting with  individuals to bring our message to conservatives and evangelicals.

Champions like Officer Tourinho INVEST in a future that saves lives and restores credibility to Kentucky’s justice system. As he said in closing his letter,

Through your previous support we have built a tremendous foundation for success. It is through continued support we increase our opportunities to find Kentuckians who will help us pass a bill repealing the death penalty….

I sincerely thank you for considering my request and appreciate your joining me in this fight for justice.

Join Officer Tourinho in becoming a champion and invest in KCADP with a contribution mailed to KCADP, PO BOX 3092, Louisville KY, 40201. Or use the secure PayPal account by clicking on the DONATE button in the column to the right.

 

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Former prosecutors call for repeal of death penalty

Three former prosecutors have called for replacing the death penalty with life without parole for those convicted of capital murder in Kentucky. In addition to being a prosecutor Stephen Ryan is a retired circuit court judge who sentenced prisoners to death.

Their plea was published in the state’s two newspapers with the highest circulation, the Courier-Journal and the Lexington Herald-Leader, and we anticipate it will be published in other newspapers.

Joseph Gutmann, Stephen Ryan and J. Stew Schneider cited recent polling results in their article and reminded readers that a 2011 report from a Kentucky Assessment Team which studied the process for two years identified numerous problems with the way Kentucky implements the death penalty. There is extensive discussion of this report on this website. 

 

What Kentuckians Say MoratoriumThe writers point out that when the report was release in 2011 a poll found that 62 percent of likely Kentucky voters supported a temporary halt to executions until the problems identified could be corrected. They go on to say that in the most recent polling released last week Kentuckians would strongly support a decision by the governor to halt executions until the broken system is fixed. They write:

Here is the question the interviewers asked in the poll, which was conducted between March 4 and April 30, and included interviews with 684 Kentuckians over the age of 18 (with a margin of error of plus or minus 3.8 percent):

“A two-year study by a panel of Kentucky law professors, judges, and other legal scholars found major problems in the administration of the death penalty in Kentucky and recommended that the state should suspend executions until those problems were fixed. In light of these problems, would you support a decision by the governor to halt all executions until these problems can be addressed?”

Nearly three-fourths of the respondents, 72.4 percent, told interviewers they would support the governor taking such an action.

It is significant that in the past five years not one recommendation made by the Kentucky team of legal experts to fix the system has been implemented. And the percentage of Kentuckians willing to support a governor’s decision to halt executions has increased by 10 percent.

No wonder then that these writers who worked for years in this system now conclude

These poll results make it clear that Kentuckians’ concerns about the fairness of the state’s criminal justice system are growing. Replacing the death penalty with life without parole is the best approach for our state — protecting public safety, providing justice to the families of victims, removing the possibility that an innocent person will be executed and saving limited tax dollars.

Graphic: KCADP using data from the poll by the University of Kentucky Survey Research Center, 2016, ±3.8% margin of error

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64% of Kentuckians agree that Kentucky should abandon the death penalty

003 - Broken system lwop over dp

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.

To read our press release about the polling results click here. To see additional charts and the text of the question that accompanies each chart click here.

Graphic: created by KCADP using data provided by the University of Kentucky Survey Research Center

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Possible execution of innocent defendants disturbs Kentuckians

002 - Innocence concerns

In January 2003 Illinois Governor George Ryan commuted the death sentences of 163 men and 4 women on death row there. Prior to that he had declared a moratorium because he was appalled that more innocent persons had been released from that death row than had been executed. In his speech commuting these sentences he said:

As I said when I declared the moratorium, it is time for a rational discussion on the death penalty. While our experience in Illinois has indeed sparked a debate, we have fallen short of a rational discussion. Yet if I did not take this action, I feared that there would be no comprehensive and thorough inquiry into the guilt of the individuals on death row or of the fairness of the sentences applied. To say it plainly one more time- the Illinois capital punishment system is broken. It has taken innocent men to a hair’s breadth escape from their unjust execution.

The Death Penalty Information Center lists the names of 156 men and women released from death row in this nation who have been wrongfully convicted and sentenced to death. One of those named is Larry Osborne, sentenced to death for a crime he did not commit. Larry was released from Kentucky’s death row when a jury in a second trial declared him not guilty. He received that second trial because Kentucky’s Supreme Court unanimously found he had not received a fair trial earlier.

In recent polling by the University of Kentucky Survey Research Center, 71.6% of the respondents expressed concerns about killing the innocent. The poll revealed that although 69.3 % of Kentuckians support the death penalty in the abstract, nearly two-thirds, 61.4%, of them are concerned that an innocent person could be executed.

As found on the Conservatives Concerned About the Death Penalty website, Jeff Frazee, Founder and Executive Director, Young Americans for Liberty has said:

I first supported the death penalty until I found out how many innocent individuals were being killed and how costly it was on the taxpayers. In a free and just society, we should always strive to protect life, most especially all innocent life. And, ultimately, it costs the taxpayers more to put a man to death than keeping him locked up for life. So after studying the issue, I now strongly oppose the death penalty.”

Even one innocent human life is too much to risk. It is time to abolish the death penalty in Kentucky.

To read our press release about the polling results click here. To see additional charts and the text of the question that accompanies each chart click here.

Graphic: created by KCADP using data provided by the University of Kentucky Survey Research Center

 

 

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