Stumbo opposes ABA's death penalty moratorium, suggests returning to use of electric chair

01/26/2012 07:47 AM

House Speaker Greg Stumbo said he would oppose shelving the death penalty in Kentucky, even temporarily, and instead would rather see Kentucky ditch lethal injections in favor of the electric chair if it meant fewer chances for death row inmates to appeal.

“When I was attorney general, we tried to push these cases forward and kept running into judicial roadblocks,” said Stumbo who served as attorney general between 2003 and 2007. “I actually said at one time, why don’t we go back to doing it the old fashioned way and do away with lethal injections.”

The American Bar Association recommended in December that Kentucky put a moratorium on the death penalty until it can fix a host of problems and inconsistencies found in its review of the process. That recommendations includes requiring that DNA evidence in capital cases be preserved.

And Stumbo told Pure Politics earlier this month that he thinks some of those “common sense” recommendations should be adopted but that he opposes any moratorium on the death penalty.

One of Stumbo’s good friend and former state House member, Mike Bowling, is among those lawyers working with the Bar Association to push for the moratorium. The Bar Association presented its findings to the House Judiciary Committee on Wednesday.

The Bar Association found a host of problems, such as lack of data and insufficient protections for the mentally ill, as well as confusion among jurors about what information they should take into consideration during sentencing.

In addition, 78 people have been sentenced to death in Kentucky since 1976. Of those, 50 had their sentences overturned in appeal or were granted clemency.

Rep. Brent Yonts, D-Greenville, said he wants to see these issues addressed immediately before any more Kentuckians are sent to death row.

Republican Rep. Stan Lee of Lexington said the Bar Association made strong recommendations but he’s not comfortable eliminating the death penalty as an option, even temporarily.

- With video and reporting from Wednesday’s House Judiciary Committee meeting by Don Weber.


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