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Kentucky Death Penalty System Flawed07 Dec

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Vigil at the Marco Chapman Execution at Eddyville, Nov. 21, 2008

A team of respected members of the legal community in Kentucky released a report on  Wednesday, December 7, calling for a moratorium on the use of the death penalty because of the flaws found in its administration.  The comprehensive evaluation of all death penalty cases performed by an assessment team of Kentucky legal experts describes areas where the system is faulty and offers a series of recommendations for legislators and others who carry out policy to implement in an attempt to restore fairness to Kentucky’s system and assure accuracy, so that the risk of executing the innocent – which can never be fully realized – is reduced. The Catholic Conference welcomes this report and agrees that the Governor should declare a moratorium and not sign any death warrants until its findings can be fully studied. One recommendation is particularly of interest because the Conference has supported past legislation, and anticipates supporting a bill in the upcoming session, to exempt severely mentally ill defendants from execution, while holding them accountable when they are guilty of the crimes for which they are charged.

The press release announcing the study’s results cited this recommendation: “Kentucky should adopt legislation exempting the severely mentally ill from the death penalty.” To read the release click here.

Working with the Kentucky Mental Health Coalition and NAMI-KY, the Conference will ask the General Assembly will pass this legislation and the Governor will sign it. When talking to your State Senators and State Representatives, please urge their support for this bill when it is introduced.

Pope Benedict XVI recently said about those working to end the death penalty: “I express my hope that your deliberations will encourage the political and legislative initiatives being promoted in a growing number of countries to eliminate the death penalty and to continue the substantive progress made in conforming penal law both to the human dignity of prisoners and the effective maintenance of public order. ”

More about this and other legislation will be part of Catholics @ the Capitol in February. Registration is open and available online now.

Photo: Pat Delahanty

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