A conservative objector to capital punishment told Newsmax TV
on Thursday that state-sanctioned execution is out of step with conservatism's core beliefs and should be abolished for the most heinous crimes in favor of life without parole.
Subjecting the death penalty to "a conservative litmus test," Marc Hyden, National Coordinator for Conservatives Concerned About the Death Penalty, told "MidPoint" host Ed Berliner that the policy fails on at least three counts.
"You risk killing innocent life, so it's not pro-life," said Hyden. "It costs more than life without parole, so it's not fiscally responsible. And I don't think giving our government the power to kill U.S. citizens — I don’t think that's limited government."
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Three murderers in three states
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were put to death in the space of 24 hours
on Tuesday and Wednesday — the first applications of capital punishment since Oklahoma's botched execution on April 29 of convicted rapist and murderer Clayton Lockett.
All three men — in Georgia, Missouri and Florida — died by lethal injection, and apparently without the prolonged physical agony that Lockett
endured before he succumbed to a heart attack.
Courts refused to postpone the Georgia, Missouri and Florida executions, and denied defense lawyers' requests for the names and methods of pharmacies and manufacturers hired to produce lethal-injection chemicals.
Lockett was fed a three-drug compound never before tried in Oklahoma. The maker of the state's preferred lethal drug had discontinued it to protest its use in executions.
Other companies still make chemicals that are presented as a more humane form of capital punishment than the gas chamber or the electric chair., but death-penalty states want those companies' identities kept secret to shield them from reprisals.
Hyden said there is "no reason" for a "lethal injection protocol shrouded in secrecy."
"I think this is a transparency in government issue," he said.
Hyden also said it's a "myth" that conservatives are likelier than liberals to support capital punishment. He said more states, red and blue, are coming to view capital punishment as too expensive because of the automatic appeals process for death-row inmates, and dubious as a law-enforcement tool because multiple studies show it doesn't deter crime.
"We've seen [that] six states in seven years have repealed the death penalty because they found, after years of trying to make it work properly, that it was irrevocably broken," he said. "So many states are already taking the lead. … New Hampshire is working towards that. Nebraska, Kansas and many other red states are working towards that because they see that this is a program that's inconsistent with conservatives' core principles."
Asked if simple justice still argues in favor of capital punishment, Hyden said no because the system is "incredibly harmful" to the murder victims' families that he works with.
Some "don't oppose the death penalty theoretically," he said. "They oppose the current system of capital punishment because it promises them a death sentence. That promise is not always kept, and then they're re-traumatized through a decades-long process of trials and appeals. And in the end, if they do actually execute the offender, it's the offender that becomes a household name, while the victim — the victim's generally forgotten."
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