On Wednesday, Nebraska repealed the death penalty after lawmakers overrode the governor’s veto.
This is a big deal for a few reasons. First, Nebraska isn’t exactly known for being a liberal progressive state. It’s one of the most conservative states in the country and the first red state to repeal the death penalty in 40 years. The vote was extremely close with both Republicans and Democrats coming together to nix the death penalty.
Attitudes towards the death penalty are changing, especially in conservative circles. Ten years ago or so, it felt that you had to support the death penalty in order to be a conservative. Now, not so much.
More respected conservatives are speaking out against the death penalty. There are a number of Republican-led efforts to repeal the death penalty in a handful of states. A Gallup poll shows that support for the death penalty among conservatives dropped 5 percentage points in just one year.
There’s a national organization called Conservatives Concerned about the Death Penalty. They played a big role in repealing the death penalty in Nebraska. Their national coordinator, Marc Hyden, said,
I’m not surprised that conservatives led the death penalty repeal effort in Nebraska. I think this will become more common. When I speak to conservatives across the nation, they’re eager to share their concerns about the death penalty. Conservatives have sponsored repeal bills in Kansas, Montana, Wyoming, South Dakota, Missouri, and Kentucky in recent years. National conservative leaders are also speaking up because the death penalty violates the core conservative principles of fiscal responsibility, limited government, and valuing life.
He’s right. I used to support the death penalty until I looked more into the actual cost of it and the likelihood of innocent people being sentenced to death. It’s not worth it. I’m glad to see more conservatives come to the same realization that government shouldn’t have the power to sentence people to death.