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Bipartisan Bills Seek to Abolish KY Death Penalty

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Two Kentucky lawmakers have introduced bills that would eliminate the death penalty and replace it with life without parole.

Democratic Sen. Gerald Neal of Louisville and Republican Rep. David Floyd of Bardstown say the justice system is flawed and should not have the power to take a felon’s life.

Corrections data provided by the Kentucky Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty shows that 14 death penalty cases have been overturned since 1983.

Neal says he has also filed a resolution in the Senate that would create a task force to examine the cost of capital punishment to taxpayers. It's been estimated to cost an average $10 million each year.

“Whether you’re for it or against it, that’s one thing or the other,” said Neal.  “But let’s understand the cost to the taxpayer because it impacts more. I guess the bottom line is, I think, as I talk individually with some members of the chamber, I think that argument is gaining some traction.”

Some commonwealth’s attorneys maintain that capital punishment acts as a deterrent on crime, a point that Neal and Floyd disagree with.

Floyd also says trusting government to fairly administer capital punishment doesn’t fit with conservative politics.

“Conservatives, we don’t trust our government to run our health care,” said Floyd. ”We don’t trust them to respect constitutional limits on executive power. We’re constantly mindful of the abuse of political power. But on the other hand, we trust the government with the power of life or death over a human who’s in a system where prosecutors and judges are in political offices.”

Louisville resident Ruth Lowe spoke in support of the measures, saying that the anger she felt against the man who murdered her brother in 1983 isn’t worth taking another life.

“I had to let it all go,” she said. “And I want people to know that revenge is not the answer.”

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