Webb Files Bill to Reform Kentucky's Death Penalty

Feb 20, 2015

: A Kentucky state senator says a moratorium on Kentucky's death penalty is needed until problems are fixed.
Credit Greg Stotelmyer

On the same day Pennsylvania's governor placed a moratorium on the death penalty in the Keystone state, a Kentucky lawmaker filed a bill to make what she says would be moderate reforms to Kentucky's laws.

State Sen. Robin Webb maintains there are so many problems with Kentucky's death penalty that Gov. Steve Beshear should do what Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf did last Friday – suspend the death penalty.

"You know, we've had a lot of litigation over our manner of execution and lethal injections, and the cocktail and the protocol and all of that, which is expensive for the state,” Webb points out. “And, you know, again there's a humanitarian aspect of this, but there's also a fiscal impact of this."

It was three years ago December that the American Bar Association (ABA) released a report outlining a myriad of problems with Kentucky's death penalty – citing 95 specific things that needed to be fixed.

Webb's bill calls for more law enforcement training on the use of lineups, interrogations, eyewitness testimony and biological evidence.

It also proposes more training for judges on mental-health issues. And, it attempts to improve DNA storage and testing – a crucial piece of the bill, says Webb, because of the dozens of wrongful convictions across the country.

"It's, you know, not too comprehensive,” she concedes. “I'm a realist. I think it's things that we've talked about in the past and hopefully can reach a consensus."

Pennsylvania's governor said his state's moratorium will remain in effect until problems cited by an advisory commission are addressed – a situation similar to Kentucky's.

When the ABA issued its report in December 2011 the panel of lawyers, professors and retired judges recommended a temporary suspension of the death penalty.