Death Penalty Bills Awaiting Action in Committee03 Mar

Pastoral Letter of Kentucky Bishops

Bills to repeal the death penalty are lingering in their respective chambers’ Judiciary Committees. Senate Bill 77 sponsored by Sen. Gerald Neal and House Bill 330 sponsored by Rep. David Floyd both deserve a hearing.

In addition to these bills, Senator Neal filed Senate Concurrent Resolution 131 which calls for a complete study of the cost incurred by Kentucky for its use of the death penalty. This measure is also stalled in the Senate Judiciary Committee.

On Sunday, Mar. 2, the Courier-Journal published an excellent opinion article written by Rep. Floyd making the case for repeal of the death penalty and using life without the possibility of parole the ultimate penalty for capital murder.

Rep. Floyd acknowledges that his opposition to the death penalty came about because of spiritual reasons, but that these were not always compelling when speaking with others. In his article he points out how repealing the death penalty makes sense for those who are guided by conservative political principles:

Capital punishment in Kentucky is a broken government program that risks killing the wrongly convicted, risks abuse of power, wastes resources, is arbitrary and unjust. We’ve tried to make the death penalty work, but we have been unable to fix its many problems and reconcile it with our conservative principles. We should repeal the death penalty and replace it with life without parole. It’s the only way to ensure that no innocent people are killed by the Commonwealth of Kentucky, and that those impacted by the process get finality much sooner.

From the mid-1980s our bishops have called for the abolition of the death penalty, providing both the theological reasons for doing so and the practical reasons created by a system that is error prone because it is operated by human beings. Readers are encouraged to do two things: read the documents published by our bishops and then take action by contacting Kentucky legislators and urging repeal of this form of punishment in Kentucky.

Pastoral statements by Kentucky’s bishops are found on this site by clicking here. And you can leave a message for your Senator and Representative by calling this toll free number: 1.800.372.7181. If you wish to speak directly to your legislators, you can try to reach them by calling 502.564.8100 and asking to be connected directly with their offices.

Additional information about the death penalty in Kentucky and efforts to abolish it are found on the website of the Kentucky Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty. The Catholic Conference is an organizational member of KCADP. To keep updated individuals can sign up for its eNewsletter here.

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