"An Unlikely Conservative Cause: Abolish the Death Penalty," is by Pema Levy for Newsweek. There is an infographic at the link.
Marc Hyden was a little nervous as he took the stage in February at a local Republican political conference in Buford, Georgia, where some 300 conservatives looked up at him skeptically. He was about to pitch them on why they should oppose the death penalty.
“Many of them looked at me a little weirdly,” Hyden recalls. “Who is this guy? Is he a liberal acting as a conservative?”
He is not a liberal. A conservative Christian who most recently worked at the National Rifle Association, Hyden is one of two people leading a group called Conservatives Concerned About the Death Penalty. His mission is to convince Republicans that the death penalty fails a “conservative litmus test.” Ultimately, the goal is to see it repealed in every state.
At the February “Conservatism Outside the Box” conference, which drew speakers on issues ranging from homeschooling to the states’ right to nullify federal laws, Hyden walked the audience through his transformation from pro- to anti-death penalty.
Armed with a PowerPoint slideshow, he began with the pictures of men on death row who were executed before potentially exculpatory evidence was uncovered. Next, he hammered on the high costs of the death penalty, largely due to the costlier trials and prolonged appeal process in most cases, which sometimes force counties to commit the cardinal conservative sin of raising taxes. The state of California, for example, has, since 1978, spent $4 billion on death penalty cases and carried out 13 executions.
“This should be offensive to conservatives,” Hyden told the crowd. “We’re supposed to act as stewards of the taxpayers’ hard-earned money.”
He bolstered his speech with quotes from prominent conservatives such as former U.S. Representative Ron Paul of Texas and columnist George Will, whose concerns about the death penalty might come as a surprise to some conservatives.
Earlier coverage of the conservative case for repeal begins at the link.