There are serious flaws in Kentucky’s administration of the death penalty, increasing the chance an innocent person could be executed, an American Bar Association team said in a study issued this week, reports the Lexington Herald-Leader. The team recommended halting executions until problems are corrected.
Those include a lack of protections against executing seriously mentally ill people; high case loads and low pay for public defenders in capital cases; no rule to preserve evidence for as long as someone is in prison, meaning they might miss a chance for DNA tests that could exonerate them; and confusion among jurors about their role in deciding whether to recommend a death sentence. The study found that of the 78 people sentenced to death in Kentucky since 1976, 52 had that initial sentence overturned because of errors at the trial. There are 33 men and one woman under a death sentence in Kentucky.