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Poll: Kentuckians Want Executions Halted Until Problems Fixed


Monday, August 1, 2016   

FRANKFORT, Ky. – A new poll finds that nearly three out of four Kentuckians want executions halted in the state until problems with the system are fixed – problems that were exposed in a 2011 report from the American Bar Association.

The poll, conducted by the University of Kentucky Survey Research Center, shows that 72.4 percent of those questioned would support a move by the governor to stop executions until the broken system is repaired.

University of Louisville criminal justice professor Gennaro Vito says the poll results send a clear message to state lawmakers.

"You may have to question, given the problems we've had with the administration of the death penalty in this state, why we would continue to use it, when so many Kentuckians are in favor of the sentence of life without parole in place of the death penalty," he states.

The poll finds that while in the abstract a majority of Kentuckians support the death penalty, when they are informed of problems with its administration, including its cost and length, 64 percent favor making life without parole the maximum sentence.

Yet, the Kentucky General Assembly has repeatedly rejected legislation to abolish capital punishment.

During this year's legislative session, when the House Judiciary Committee debated the issue, Rep. Gerald Watkins said for some defendants, execution is justice, not life behind bars in the state's maximum-security prison.

"I wouldn't want my mail delivered there, but I will tell you that is not punishment,” he states. “Their lifestyle is much better than a lot of other people's out on the street."

But, the Rev. Patrick Delahanty, chair of the Kentucky Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty, says the poll results show that, unlike some lawmakers, Kentuckians are not locked into wanting the death penalty.

"The real solution would be to take the death penalty off the table and use a more cost effective, severe punishment that protects the public, like life without parole," he stresses.

The poll finding that when cost is factored in, 68 percent of Kentuckians want the death penalty abolished.

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