Kentucky is spending millions of dollars each year on a capital-punishment system so ineffective that more death-row inmates are dying of natural causes than are executed, says the Louisville Courier-Journal. Since the death penalty was reinstated nationwide in 1976, Kentucky’s trial courts have sentenced 92 defendants to death. Only three have been executed; five have died while their cases were on appeal. Because of Kentucky’s ponderous system, more than one-third of the state’s 36 current death-row inmates – 13 in all – have been there at least two decades. That’s a higher percentage than in every other state except Tennessee, Nevada, and Idaho, an analysis of information compiled by the federal Bureau of Justice Statistics finds.
Some 30 other inmates whom Kentucky judges sent to death row over the past 33 years ultimately have seen their sentences reduced as the result of appeals, suggesting widespread flaws at the trial level. The state Department of Public Advocacy estimates that Kentucky spends as much as $8 million a year prosecuting, defending, and incarcerating death-row inmates.