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PNS Daily Newscast - November 13, 2018. 


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Finally Free, Former Death Row Inmate Brings Message to KY

PHOTO:  Exonerated death row inmate Randy Steidl is touring Kentucky this month, pushing for the state to abolish lethal injection. Photo courtesy Witness to Innocence.
PHOTO: Exonerated death row inmate Randy Steidl is touring Kentucky this month, pushing for the state to abolish lethal injection. Photo courtesy Witness to Innocence.
August 13, 2013

LOUISVILLE, Ky. - Randy Steidl became "the face of capital punishment repeal" in Illinois. Now he's taking his personal story across the Bluegrass State in hopes of convincing Kentucky lawmakers to abolish the death penalty. Steidl was exonerated in 2004 for the 1986 murders of an Illinois couple after he had spent 17 years behind bars after being wrongly accused and convicted, 12 of those years on Death Row.

"I hold a lot of resentment and a lot of anger, but I channel it through what I do with my nonprofit work, Witness to Innocence," Steidl said.

Witness to Innocence is made up of exonerated death-row inmates who are on a mission to eliminate capital punishment in the 32 states where it remains legal.

Several attempts in the Legislature to make life without parole the maximum sentence in Kentucky have failed in recent years. Steidl wants lawmakers to know that, from his own experience, he believes the best way to punish killers is to lock them up for the rest of their lives.

"And if you think about the crimes that they committed, and if they don't repent to God, then when they die, they burn in Hell. And to me that is a just punishment," he declared. "You know, at least you don't risk that possibility of executing an innocent person, because you can release an innocent man from prison, but you can't release him from the grave."

Since the mid-'70s, 142 people nationwide have been released from Death Rows in various states with evidence of their innocence. A recent study by the American Bar Association found a 60 percent error rate in Kentucky death-penalty cases.

"And that's an error rate that's not acceptable for a civilized society, as we claim to be."

Steidl said that and the cost of death-penalty cases, as much as triple that of other murder cases, are the main reasons lawmakers need to change Kentucky's law. Six states have abolished the death penalty in the past six years.

A link to Witness to Innocence is at WitnesstoInnocence.org.

Greg Stotelmyer , Public News Service - KY