Finding Common Ground on Repealing the Death Penalty

What do Michael Bloomberg and Oliver North have in common? How about Michelle Malkin and Kim Kardashian West, or Ron Paul and Bernie Sanders? They may not share much turf when it comes to their political or social views, but they do all agree on one point that may surprise you.

They all oppose the death penalty.

Support for repealing the death penalty is diverse, it is growing, and it is bipartisan in nature. The brokenness of the death penalty system, long documented in local headlines and the cases they highlight, has hit a turning point with the public. This year alone, Republicans sponsored death penalty-repeal bills in ten states. That’s in keeping with trends that my organization, Conservatives Concerned About the Death Penalty, has been tracking since 2012.

I am a walking example of this trend.

Growing up as a conservative and as the daughter of a Southern Baptist minister, my views on the death penalty were for many years exactly what one might expect—absolutely pro. But I changed my stance after finally digging deeper, and learning just how frequently innocent people are caught up in the system. I learned about the outrageous costs of the death penalty’s operation. I learned that the death penalty does not deter crime. I learned of the extraordinary arbitrariness and racial bias in sentencing.

These are the reasons that many on the political right, like myself, are joining the opposition to capital punishment and fighting for repeal.

At the end of the day, the death penalty is another failed big government program marked by the same inefficiency and misallocation of resources found throughout almost all bureaucracies. The tenets of conservatism are straightforward: a belief in limited government, fiscal responsibility, and the protection of the sanctity of human life. The death penalty does not meet any of those metrics, so it makes sense that conservatives are abandoning it in droves.

It’s been a rough few years politically in our country. The divisiveness and the disagreements have left many Americans feeling as though we’ll never come together again. I would argue that our ability to band together despite differences in ethnicity, religion, socioeconomic status, and culture is what has made American civil society so strong for so many years. On this point, the encouraging thing that I see in my work and in the movement against the death penalty at large is it is providing those of us eager to find new common ground with an opportunity to work across the aisle, on an issue we can all agree is unjust.

As state legislatures across this country debated repeal bills, I’ve sat shoulder to shoulder in hearings with people from all walks of life: Democrats, Republicans, Libertarians; murder victims’ family members and death row exonerees; Baptist, Jewish, Catholic, and Unitarian religious leaders; retired law enforcement, state attorneys general, judges, and lawyers. The list goes on and on. We have come together despite perceived and actual differences in stations, beliefs, and backgrounds to eliminate this broken system. There is power in that.

In addition to the growing number of repeal bills across the nation, there are some other signs of success that point to Americans’ growing disapproval. New death sentences are actually down 60 percent since 2000, and last year was the fourth year in a row that the country carried out fewer than 30 executions. All 25 of those executions stemmed from just eight states, and Texas alone was responsible for over half of them.

In short, not only is usage of the death penalty down, it is concentrated and isolated.

I often say that support for the death penalty runs a mile wide and an inch deep. The minute someone takes time to examine the facts around the death penalty support quickly wanes. My elevator pitch response to “what do you do?” is almost always real-time evidence of this fact. There are simply too many problems with the system for us to allow it to continue.

Given all the progress we have made in repealing the death penalty in recent years, and the diversity of support that made it happen, I think it makes perfect sense for Conservatives Concerned About the Death Penalty and the ACLU to work together as the U.S. marches closer to ridding the nation of this broken system forever.

When those opportunities arise and we find issues that unite us, I believe we must choose to come together. And when we come together as Americans, we know big things happen and we can fulfill the promise of justice in our justice system, one defined by equity, conscience, and our shared values as a society.

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Ms. Gloria Anasyrma

Just as there are people against the death penalty, there are as many people for the death penalty.
As for myself, I don't think about it one way or the other as long as I am not on death row in the local prison. If I was awaiting on my own execution then I suppose I would have more of an opinion.

Anonymous

That shows the intelligence of most of your posts. Why are you even here if you don't give a damn about anybody else? No wonder the ACLU censors your posts (assuming that's actually true, which I doubt). The point is that you cannot fix a mistake once you have killed someone. Yes, it has happened and will continue to happen if we kill people based on an extremely flawed, ridiculous system. YOU CAN'T FIX IT IF THEY'RE DEAD!

Anonymous

Kim Kardashian! There is only one thing that can be said about her: Don't --- her ----- or you will be putting your ------ where all those ------- have put their -----.

Anonymous

Must see movie “My Cousin Vinny”. It’s a comedy but does a great job illustrating how broken the American Justice System is.

Anonymous

When I was a kid there were TV shows like “Baretta” depicting real life police officers like Frank Serpico, showing a more honest view of police and prosecutors. Today’s networks (maybe well-intentioned) seem to have bought into the post-9/11 Preemption Doctrine propaganda hook, line and sinker. If you had access to the facts, basically America is using preemptive terrorism-authorities for non-terrorism cases. State legislatures and Congress have allowed “Fusion Centers” located in every state to have excessive and unwarranted secrecy protections, making “non-terrorism” cases exempt from public scrutiny under state Freedom of Information Act laws under the guise of terrorism-authorities. There is no terrorism-exemption to the U.S. Constitution even for legitimate cases. In other words voters are being kept in the dark about non-private bottom line statistics and some TV networks seem to be pushing that propaganda to TV viewers. Based on public records over the past 15 years, it appears that if you compared “warrantless terrorism-searches” versus “terrorism-convictions” the success rate is less than 1/10 of 1%. That means massive covert blacklisting is taking place and harming innocent people. Even today, almost 20 years later, one cannot be removed from a post 9/11 watchlist. Even if one could be removed, you can’t wipe the memory of the local police and other local officials that defamed these innocent people. State and local governments have essentially been “deputized” by the federal government, with billions of taxpayer dollars, wiping out all substantial checks & balances. Hollywood hasn’t done much service to the likely hundreds of thousands of American blacklisting victims harmed or killed since 9/11 with programs like Cointelpro.

Brien

Explain why I should pay for a lifetime of room and board and health benefits for an Animalia/Hominid who deserves no life....?

BEN GREGO

I TOTALLY AGREE WITH YOU!! if the person is absolutely guilty of the murder, etc., they should not live at taxpayer's expense! why should my tax dollars go to feed your sorry ass for the rest of your life? HUH?????????

someone asked me that if I had a chance to pull the switch on the electric chair for a murderer, they bet I wouldn't do it......OH YEAH? I told them just tell me what time to be there and how to do it and I"ll pull the damn switch!!!

they were aghast at my reply...lol.....AGAIN I MUST REITERATE that this would be ONLY for someone totally guilty of a murder.

and on another note...WHY DON'T WE HAVE A FIRING SQUAD?? line'em up. get 6 shooters, 5 with blanks, one with a live bullet, of course no one knowing who had the live bullet, and ,
BADA BING........it's over....

no weeping or gnashing of teeth about 'cruel & unusual punishment".........maybe unusual, but cruel?? NAH.........just over and done with......

so what do you think?

Mohamed Boto

The death penalty is an objectionable act of murder.

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