ABA recommends suspending KY executions

The American Bar Association is recommending that the state of Kentucky suspend all executions after a two year study.

An ABA assessment team took a careful look at Kentucky's death penalty system and on Wednesday released a 483-page report which details a number of problems. These include public defenders being overworked and underpaid, forensic evidence not preserved long enough and inconsistent and disproportionate sentencing.

The assessment team was co-chaired by NKU law professor Mike Manheimer who says problems have also been found with juries.

"The fact that so many jurors don't understand the jury instructions that they're given is very problematic.  Jurors might be sentencing someone to death based on lack of comprehension of jury instructions," he said.

Manheimer says most Kentucky state agencies cooperated with the ABA team, but some did not.

"Unfortunately we were not able to get the cooperation of prosecutors. We attempted to do so through the prosecutor's advisory council which is under the heading of the attorney general of Kentucky and they declined to help us out."

Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear says the ABA recommendation is academic at this point.

"We haven't made a decision on that because we haven't had a look at their study yet. We're just starting to look at it. But right now there's nothing to do anyway because the courts have an injunction against the process in Kentucky," said the governor.

Kentucky Commonwealth attorneys contacted by FOX19 were not available for comment.

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