Historically, the death penalty was supported by Republicans across the country. However, a recent study shows the number of anti-death penalty conservatives is rapidly increasing. Republican lawmakers sponsoring a death penalty repeal bill went from less than five in 2009, to nearly 40 in 2016.
Why would this be? Why would conservatives all of a sudden oppose the death penalty?
Here are four reasons why:
The death penalty is expensive. A study from the United States Courts found that a federal murder case seeking the death penalty costs 8 times more than a federal murder case that does not. In terms of individual states, the Legislative Finance Committee of the New Mexico legislature found that reinstating the death penalty for three types of homicides, would cost New Mexico up to $7.2 million within the first 3 years.
Dr. Ernest Goss, economics professor at Creighton University and founder of the conservative think tank Goss and Associates, found in a 2016 study that Nebraska spends $14.6 million annually in order to conserve its capital punishment system.
With fiscal responsibility and low taxes as foundations of conservatism, it is becoming increasingly difficult to support the financial cost attached to the death penalty. Fiscal responsibility is superseding being tough on crime.
For more information on the economic costs of the death penalty, click here.
- Wrongful Convictions
One innocent person sentenced to death is enough to rethink the death penalty. There are currently 160 known individuals who have been wrongfully sentenced to death.
The findings of a study from the National Academy of Sciences in America discovered that “if all death-sentenced defendants remained under sentence of death indefinitely, at least 4.1% would be exonerated.”
A false conviction can be fixed if one is sentenced to life in prison, but when one is sentenced to death, the mistake is eternal. Conservatives understand that government is imperfect and that above all, one has a right to their own life. Therefore, ending a human life is the most extreme power possible, so why give it to an inefficient and fallible government?
- Botched Executions
An estimated 3.15% of executions in the United States from 1890 to 2010 were botched in some manner.
The most recent example was in November when executioners failed to lethally inject 69-year-old Alva Campbell. Unable to find a vein in the first attempt, executioners will once again seek to execute Campbell after his 19-month delay is up.
These occurrences only reinforce the former points. Failed executions increase costs and expose the errancy of ascribing to the government such power.
85% of conservatives identify as Christian, with 38% of them being Evangelical Protestants. In 2015, the country’s most prominent Evangelical group backed away from their over forty year old pro-death penalty stance.
Conservative Christians’ second largest denomination is Catholicism at 21%. The Catholic Church teaches that capital punishment is only acceptable in “cases of absolute necessity” which is believed to be “very rare, if not practically non-existent.”
Ultimately, in the Gospels, Christ teaches to love even those who sin and ones should continue to forgive his brother no matter how many times he’s wronged.
The tough on crime tendency among conservatives is the root for the support of capital punishment, but it is coming under fire from other foundational ideals of the movement. Fiscal responsibility, mistrust of the government, and religious conviction all argue against the utility and morality of the death penalty.
Pro-death penalty conservatives should self-reflect on the effects of capital punishment and take a stance that best fits their beliefs. If the increasing minority of anti-death penalty conservatives expands into a majority, then the death penalty will be unironically killed off.
The views expressed in this article are the opinion of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Lone Conservative staff.