Capital punishment, or the death penalty, as it’s better known, has long been a controversial issue in American politics. Conservatives generally support it, while liberals tend to oppose it. There are a few points I’d like to make to try to persuade conservatives of the underlying conservatism that is opposition to the death penalty.
One major issue with the death penalty is state overreach. Conservatism is supposed to be the small government movement. If this is to be true, then conservatives need to work to reduce state power, and reducing the power to kill as punishment should be prioritized. It has been found in numerous cases that a person who was killed was actually innocent. This kind of thing should be frowned upon by the small government movement of this nation.
Another problem with conservative support for the death penalty is the conservative monopoly on the “pro-life” movement. If conservatives want to be principled pro lifers, this position certainly weakens that principle. It is rather difficult to defend killing on behalf of the state, and claim to be pro-life.
A constitutional case against the death penalty can be made as well, and you need look no further than the eighth amendment. This amendment prevents the use of “cruel and unusual punishment”. It is not hard to see the cruelty in the death penalty, seeing as the first drug you are administered is paralytic so as to prevent viewers from seeing the pain of the victim. That is, assuming you are killed by lethal injection, and not gas chamber, hanging, firing squad or electrocution, as are all legal in multiple states. This clearly qualifies as cruel, and as the movement of the Constitution, conservatives should oppose it.
The final conservative case against the death penalty is fiscal. Conservatives love economic responsibility, and the death penalty is quite irresponsible. According to Deathpenaltyinfo.org, federal death penalty cases are about eight times as expensive as non death penalty cases. It is more expensive in states as well as counties. This money typically comes from lowered funding for law enforcement, or raising taxes, two things conservatives are not fond of. The economically conservative position is to call for an end to the death penalty.
Whether it’s a small government case, one to strengthen the pro-life movement, a push to restore the constitution, or an economic argument, conservatives need to shift the narrative and embrace opposition to the death penalty.