The team’s report, released yesterday by the American Bar Association’s Death Penalty Moratorium Project, lists flaws that include: inadequate protections to guard against wrongful convictions; inconsistent and disproportionate numbers of capital charges and sentences; inadequate funding of the capital defender system; inadequacies in post-conviction review to correct error; capital juror confusion; imposition of a death sentence on people with mental retardation and severe mental disability; and overall lack of data keeping on capital charging and sentencing practices.
“The assessment team in Kentucky is an esteemed group of highly dedicated individuals who are committed to ensuring justice,” said ABA President Wm. T. (Bill) Robinson III, a native of the state. “The report provides a thorough analysis of the death penalty system, and identifies many areas that need reform,” he said.
The problems with the death penalty system in the state need to be addressed to minimize the risk of executing the innocent, experts say.
In 2003, the ABA’s Death Penalty Moratorium Implementation Project, housed in the Section of Individual Rights and Responsibilities, began several comprehensive evaluations of the death penalty, like the one conducted in Kentucky. The ABA has examined administration of the death penalty in Alabama, Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Tennessee. The project expects to release additional reports on Missouri, Texas and Virginia. The reports have not been adopted by the ABA House of Delegates as policy of the association.