Two-thirds of Kentuckians support the death penalty as an option for murderers and oppose replacing it with a sentence of life in prison without parole. The Courier-Journal Bluegrass poll of 609 registered Kentucky voters shows 67 percent support capital punishment, while 26 percent oppose it.
Nationally, several states have been rethinking the death penalty in light of cases where individuals on death row were later exonerated. Two bills have been filed in this year’s General Assembly that would abolish the death penalty. In previous legislative sessions, efforts to end the state’s capital punishment system have received little support.
The latest survey doesn’t show much change from a 1997 Bluegrass Poll that showed 70 percent of Kentuckians backing the death penalty.
At least three death row inmates could be nearing execution as Kentucky moves toward a new lethal injection method, with the governor's office already having requests to set dates for two, and a third man out of direct appeals in his case.
Kentucky is implementing lethal injection by one or two drugs, depending on the availability of the narcotics, after a judge ordered the state to abandon or be prepared to defend using the old three-drug mixture. The change takes legal effect Feb. 1.
A spokeswoman for Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear says until an injunction suspending all executions is lifted, the governor can't move on carrying out a death sentence.
Tennessee’s Department of Correction Commissioner says he’s pursuing the use of drugs that could be used to execute inmates on death row. The Volunteer State’s entire stock of a key lethal injection drug was confiscated by the federal government in 2011 over questions about whether the drugs were legally obtained.
Commissioner Derrick Schofield says his department is urgently working to secure drugs that could be used to execute inmates.
The Tennessean reports there are currently 84 people sitting on the state’s death row, with 67 of those inmates having been there for more than a decade. Since 2011, there’s been a national shortage of the drug thiopental, which was widely used by states during the lethal injection process.
The Kentucky Commission on Human Rights has called on the state to end the use of the death penalty, saying it is often applied unfairly against minorities and the poor. The commissioners, who enforce state and federal civil rights laws, urged Kentucky lawmakers in a resolution last week to repeal the law that allows the use of the death penalty in some murder cases.
Kentucky officials are set to hold a public hearing on a new proposal for the execution method for condemned inmates. The Justice Cabinet will hear comments from attorneys, advocates and the public starting at 9 a.m. EDT Tuesday at the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet building in Frankfort.