A Change In Philosophy
Conservatives have been slowly turning away from the death penalty for years, as high-profile innocence cases have helped frame capital punishment as a problem of out-of-control big government.
In January 2000, after a series of exonerations of people who had been sentenced to death, the Republican governor of Illinois, George Ryan, declared a moratorium on executions. At the time, Texas Gov. George W. Bush was running for president, and the national press questioned whether an innocent person had faced execution under his watch; soon after, his fellow Republicans in the state legislature voted to make DNA testing more available for prisoners.
From 2014 to 2019, Republican support for the death penalty, as opposed to life sentences, dropped from 68% to 58%, according to Gallup Polls. Republican legislators in Nebraska voted to repeal the punishment in 2015, although the states residents then voted to bring the punishment back.
Some lawmakers have been motivated by anti-abortion arguments about the sanctity of human life and stories of Christian redemption on death row. Others talk about the cost to taxpayers. South Dakota state Sen. Arthur Rusch previously served as a judge in a capital case.
When I look at a bill, I dont see color at all. I look at an individual and say, If an individual commits a crime of this nature, should they be put on death row or not? he said.
Abortion Deliberately Ends A Human Life
To treat abortion-minded mothers and abortionist as murderers is not a wild stretch. In Ohio, many believe this is appropriate, and that the woman and abortionist who knowingly violate natural and written law should be punished for ending a human life. Setting that punishment is not easy.
It is plain that abortion ends the life of an innocent human person, who has committed no wrong, has no right to a defender, and is afforded no due process or given the benefit of appeals. She can be destroyed by the whim of a pregnant woman and abortionist. By contrast, the death penalty ends the life of a guilty person, who has willfully committed a known wrong, and was afforded all the due process possible before being put to death.
To see these versions of ending a life as categorically different, and to abhor the first and support the second is not hypocrisy. To some, it is common sense.
Executions Are Mostly A Red
Gov. Gavin Newsom is expected on Wednesday to issue a moratorium on the death penalty in California, granting reprieves to the hundreds of people on death row. By signing his executive order, Newsom will lower the countrys death row population by a quarter.
The move isnt particularly surprising considering the Democrats record as an elected official he was an early proponent of same-sex marriage as mayor of San Francisco and considering Californias politics. Nor should it be surprising that President Trump weighed in Wednesday morning to oppose Newsoms move.
Defying voters, the Governor of California will halt all death penalty executions of 737 stone cold killers, Trump said. Friends and families of the always forgotten VICTIMS are not thrilled, and neither am I!
The death penalty is not a new entrant to the political culture wars, but in recent years, the partisan split on the issue has widened. A Pew Research Center poll completed last year found that a small majority of Americans support the death penalty but that those views were split by party. More than three-quarters of Republicans support executions while only about a third of Democrats agree.
Among the groups most supportive of the issue are white evangelical Protestants; more than 7 in 10 support the use of the death penalty.
In 2014, support for the death penalty among Democrats dropped under 50 percent in Pews polling, the first year in which that happened.
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Republican States Have Most Prisoner Executions
Thirty-two states have the death penalty on their legal code. Republican-dominated states have performed an enormous majority of U.S. prisoner executions since 1976. Of the 1,359 executions since that date — the number reported by the Death Penalty Information Center as of Dec. 18, 2013 — 1,110 occurred in Republican-dominated Southern states. About one-third of those sentences were in Texas, where 508 death row inmates have been put to death in the past 37 years. Twelve people who were eventually proved innocent were released from the state’s death row during that period.
Conservatives And The Death Penalty
Some conservatives including Michelle Malkin, Jay Sekulow, and me oppose capital punishment. But most conservatives and Republicans support it, and their support hasnt really softened over the years, as Charles Fain Lehman demonstrates at the Free Beacon. In 2000, 70 percent of Republicans supported it. In 2009, 70 percent of Republicans did. And in 2018, again, it had 70 percent support. The drop in crime rates, changes in the composition of the party, the publicity about people taken off death row after years on it: None of it seems to have caused Republicans to budge.
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George Bush On The Death Penalty
Former President Bush is a supporter of the death penalty, though he does believe that DNA testing should be implemented before the death penalty is used. He stated, In America, we must make doubly sure no person is held to account for a crime he or she did not commit, so we are dramatically expanding the use of DNA evidence to prevent wrongful conviction. He also supported funding the use of DNA testing for use in death penalty cases. During Bushs time as governor of Texas, the state had the most executions in the nation. When asked about this number, Bush responded, I do believe that if the death penalty is administered swiftly, justly and fairly, it saves lives. My job is to ask two questions. Is the person guilty of the crime? And did the person have full access to the courts of law? And I can tell you, in all cases those answers were affirmative. Unlike some other Republicans, who support the death penalty for the sake of victims and their families, Bush supports it as a means to prevent future crimes. He has stated, I dont think you should support the death penalty to seek revenge. I dont think thats right. I think the reason to support the death penalty is because it saves other peoples lives.
The Latest From Washington
When Congress returns from its Memorial Day recess, Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer says the chamber will take up measures to set national standards for elections, which, at least for federal elections, would override state laws that limit voting. Republicans are expected to filibuster the proposals.
The bills the Democrats support aim, in part, to overturn several Supreme Court rulings that, as David Savage wrote, have tilted election law in favor of the Republicans.
Biden and Sen. Shelley Moore Capito continued on Wednesday to try to chip away at the impasse on infrastructure spending. The gap between the two sides remains very wide, however, as Eli Stokols reported, and patience has begun to wear thin at both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue.
Doyle McManus looked at the rewards for getting COVID-19 vaccinations that some states are offering. They may help get the U.S. to its vaccination goals, but lotteries alone probably wont do the trick, he wrote.
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Barack Obama On The Death Penalty
President Obama is a supporter of the death penalty in certain cases, stating, I believe that the death penalty is appropriate in certain circumstances. There are extraordinarily heinous crimes, terrorism, the harm of children, in which it may be appropriate. However, he voted against expanding the death penalty in cases of less severe crimes during his time as a state legislator. He does not believe that the death penalty prevents crime, but rather believes that these crimes simply deserve such a punishment. Obama states, While the evidence tells me that the death penalty does little to deter crime, I believe there are some crimesmass murder, the rape and murder of a childso heinous, so beyond the pale, that the community is justified in expressing the full measure of its outrage by meting out the ultimate punishment.
Obama called the incident in Oklahoma deeply disturbing, and has asked for a review of execution policies across the country. A Justice Department spokesperson has stated that the department will expand this review to include a survey of state-level protocols and related policy issues.
Republican Views On Death Penalty
About 81 percent of Republicans favor the death penalty, making up a majority of Americans who support the practice. Republican supporters often argue that capital punishment deters murder because no one wants to face the consequence of death, an assertion the American Civil Liberties Union reports is not based on fact. Although some question the morality of sentencing a human to death, those in favor of the death penalty argue the punishment is morally acceptable for certain crimes, such as rape or murder.
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Why Does The Republican Party Support The Death Penalty And Oppose Abortion The Reason Is Economics Not Ethics
The recent experience with the novel coronavirus and the economic effects of the shutdown gives us all an opportunity to calculate how much the pro-life party values life. Approximately 30 million Americans lost their jobs because of the coronavirus pandemic. The shutdown if continued through the phased reopening without being rushed will save perhaps 1 million American lives. It follows that to the politicians who wished to end the shutdown in the early summer, one life to them is worth not more than about 30 jobs. It also explains the Republican fascination with the death penalty. If the average death penalty case costs about $100,000 to try, which we can evaluate as equal to roughly 2 jobs for a year, but if only one out of every 40 people convicted of a death penalty crime is actually executed, then each execution produces roughly 80 jobs, a very decent return on investment from this coldly capitalist point of view.
Arguments Against The Death Penalty Haven’t Changed
Antonio has urged an end to the death penalty in Ohio since taking office in 2011, without much support from Republican lawmakers, though her bill last session had two Republican co-sponsors.;
Its time for the state of Ohio to take the compassionate, pragmatic and prudent step to abolish the death penalty, which has been found to be expensive, impractical, unjust, inhumane and even erroneous, Antonio said.
Backers of the bill noted the legal process in death penalty cases takes decades, and the resulting costs are more expensive than the cost to keep inmates in prison for life. Huffman noted that a life sentence without parole or early release offers “no easy way out” for a killer.
Life in prison is a terminal sentence,” Huffman said. “It gives families the assurance that the person who murdered their loved ones will spend the rest of their natural life behind bars.”
They pointed to disparities in the administration of capital punishment for people of color and the possibility of putting those innocent of crimes to death.
Wrongful convictions happen at every level of the criminal legal system, but when there is a life on the line, the system has to work, said Hannah Kubbins, executive director of Ohioans to Stop Executions. The 170-plus exonerees are living proof that it doesnt.
Granted, the arguments against the death penalty havent changed. But, Antonio said, there’s been a shift in Ohio and nationally.
Reporter Anna Staver contributed.
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Differing Views Of Death Penalty By Race And Ethnicity Education Ideology
There are wide ideological differences within both parties on this issue. Among Democrats, a 55% majority of conservatives and moderates favor the death penalty, a position held by just 36% of liberal Democrats . A third of liberal Democrats strongly oppose the death penalty, compared with just 14% of conservatives and moderates.
While conservative Republicans are more likely to express support for the death penalty than moderate and liberal Republicans, clear majorities of both groups favor the death penalty .
As in the past, support for the death penalty differs across racial and ethnic groups. Majorities of White , Asian and Hispanic adults favor the death penalty for persons convicted of murder. Black adults are evenly divided: 49% favor the death penalty, while an identical share oppose it.
Support for the death penalty also varies across age groups. About half of those ages 18 to 29 favor the death penalty, compared with about six-in-ten adults ages 30 to 49 and those 65 and older . Adults ages 50 to 64 are most supportive of the death penalty, with 69% in favor.
There are differences in attitudes by education, as well. Nearly seven-in-ten adults who have not attended college favor the death penalty, as do 63% of those who have some college experience but no degree.
The Latest From California
COVID-19 restrictions protected Californias economy, and its now poised for a euphoric rebound, according to the UCLA Anderson quarterly forecast. As Margot Roosevelt reported, Californias economy shrank less than the U.S. average during the pandemic year, and the UCLA forecasters expect the state to add jobs faster than the country as a whole.
California, however, also had huge problems delivering unemployment benefits to those who lost their jobs. As Sarah Wire and Patrick McGreevy wrote, a new report by the U.S. Department of Labors inspector general chronicles missteps by a dozen state unemployment agencies around the country, including California, which left millions in the lurch.
Meantime, state lawmakers considered requiring $7 billion in COVID-19 bonuses for healthcare workers. As Melody Gutierrez reported, hospitals, which estimate they would have to pay about $4 billion, strongly opposed the plan. On Thursday, the state Assembly .
Lawmakers to pay for programs to prevent gun violence, McGreevy reported. The measure fell short of the two-thirds vote it needed.
San Luis Obispo County delivered a sizable block of signatures on petitions to recall Newsom. Faith Pinho looked at how COVID restrictions helped fuel the recall drive in a decidedly purple region.
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Can The Death Penalty Be Fixed These Republicans Think So
A growing number of conservative lawmakers want to overhaul capital punishment, or end it.
Two years ago, a group of Republican lawmakers toured the death chamber in Oklahoma, which has been responsible for more executions per capita than any other state in the last half-century. They took in the jet-black gurney straps, the phone connected to the governors office and the microphone used for last words.
The hair rises on the back of your neck, said state Rep. Kevin McDugle. A few legislators couldnt be in the room very long.
They continued on to death row to see Richard Glossip, who has spent more than two decades in solitary confinement, facing execution for a 1997 murder. Glossip says he had nothing to do with the crime, and a growing number of conservative lawmakers believe him.
I just remember putting my hand up on the glass, McDugle recalled, and he put his hand up, and I said, You’ve got people fighting for you. Keep your head up, brother.
As Oklahoma officials seek to resume putting prisoners to death later this year, McDugle has pursued bills in the state legislature to help those on death row prove their innocence, knowing Glossip could be among the first facing execution.
My fear is some people will be executed before we pass a bill, McDugle said.
Kansas House Members Conservative To Liberal Support Abolishing The Death Penalty
Wilma Loganbills son David was murdered in 1989 in Wichita. Afterwards, I wanted to hurt the person who murdered my son in the same way that he hurt me. But I never wanted him dead. My son wouldnt have wanted that, she said in a pamphlet called Voices of Kansas: Murder Victims Families Speak Out Against the Death Penalty.
If you were looking for a group of 34 members of the Kansas House who represented the best hope of bipartisanship that mythical yet evasive unity some people say they want right now you could would find it in the list of sponsors for a bill thats most likely going nowhere this year.
In one sense, this does not appear to be a pressing issue for Kansas. Nobodys been executed in the state since 1965. The U.S. Supreme Court outlawed the death penalty in 40 states in 1972, but the Legislature re-instated it in 1994. Ten men are now awaiting this punishment.
In another sense, though, its a situation maybe the only one where lawmakers whose political views are widely divergent have found common cause based on principle.
Some of them are bringing strong voices against abortion and they dont see much difference in the abortion issue and this death penalty issue, Schreiber said of his co-sponsors. Some see it as social justice issue like I do, where, is this the right thing to be involved with deliberately executing people?
We make a mistake and theres no redress on that, he said.
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Stanley: A Conservative Viewpoint On Ending The Death Penalty
- Bill Stanley
This is a Virginia Department of Corrections undated photo of the gurney used for executions at the Greensville Corrections Center in Jarratt.
I am a conservative Republican, and I am against the death penalty.
During the ten years I have been privileged to represent the 20th District in the Virginia Senate, I have consistently opposed efforts to expand it. That may seem counter-intuitive for those who assume conservatives must support the death penalty as a key component of Republicans tough on crime stance. In my view, you can be tough on crime, be a conservative Republican, and be against the death penalty for both moral and legal reasons.
Opposition to capital punishment is not just a personal belief of mine, but is consistent with my conservative principles. This reasoning is based upon three basic principles: my strong faith in God and the gift of life; my appreciation that our judicial system is not infallible; and my firm belief that capital punishment empowers the government with an awesome authority to which it is not entitled.
In theory, the death penalty makes sense: people who commit heinous acts forfeit their right to live. And as human beings, vengeance has become a part of our emotional lexicon in seeking justice for the unconscionable murder of another human being. However, the death penalty in practice is not that simple.