Tuesday, January 19, 2010

The Death of the Death Penalty

The Death of the Death Penalty

The death penalty is dead. Killed not by judicial fiat or parliamentary maneuver or executive order but by the people. Juries comprised of citizens who swear they support the death penalty in principle have simply quit imposing it in practice.

There have been four executions in Kentucky since 1956. Two involved inmates who dropped their appeals. Scarcity can be a sign of selectivity but the rarity of executions in Kentucky goes beyond selectivity and enters the realm of freakish oddity.

The death penalty record in Kentucky support two conclusions:

1) It no longer serves a law enforcement purpose;
2) It offends Kentucky’s evolving standard of decency.

The supreme court case that resulted in the upcoming public hearings on execution techniques did not rule that the death penalty is legal--only that its machinery must be tinkered, tuned and tended in public.

The U.S. Supreme Court case that reviewed lethal injection in Kentucky did not rule on the legality of the death penalty but only a particular method of execution based upon a particular limited record about a particular regulation that we now know was not properly adopted.

The Kentucky Supreme Court should next address capital punishment head on not to abolish it on its own authority but by ruling that the people already have, secure in the knowledge that life in prison without parole protects the public and punishes the criminal.

1 comment:

Megaan said...
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