Since 2000, the number of Republicans sponsoring bills to repeal the death penalty has grown ten-fold. Keeping with current trends, 2019 is turning out to be a big year for repeal, and conservatives are leading the way yet again.
Four states with Republican control in both houses have seen bills this session sponsored by GOP lawmakers to repeal the death penalty: Wyoming, Kentucky, Montana, and Missouri.
On top of that, GOP lawmakers have also introduced repeal bills in states with a Democrat majority, with those being New Hampshire and Washington. In Washington, the state Supreme Court struck down their death penalty system as unconstitutional due to racial bias last fall, but legislators are motivated to get the law off the books once and for all.
And there are still even more states where repeal bills are expected to be filed this session, including Louisiana and Colorado. A verdict is taking shape across the nation: conservatives have turned against the death penalty.
Last year, New Hampshire passed repeal through two Republican-controlled chambers and fell only two votes shy of veto override majority. The state has only one person facing a death sentence but spends an estimated $750,000 a year to keep it on the books. It looks very favorable that they will pass their bill this year.
In Wyoming, HB 145 has been steamrolling through the legislature. A young conservative representative, Jared Olsen, has been championing the motion as its lead sponsor. He’s been joined by practically the entirety of the Republican House Majority members as well, and just a few weeks ago they successfully passed the bill on the House floor.
This week, the Wyoming State Senate will hold its first hearing on the bill, and a floor vote could come as soon as Thursday. If the Senate passes the measure, it will move on to the governor’s desk. This state may just be the surprise victory of the year, and others are taking notice.
Across the board, conservatives are realizing that the death penalty simply does not work, and they are throwing in the towel. Even in states not considering repeal measures this year, new death sentences are down and so are executions.
As conservative states continue to lead on this issue, they make high-use states look more and more foolish. While states like Tennessee and Texas waste millions of dollars a year on new capital trials, lengthy appeals, and litigation over their shady execution protocols (all while their crime rates soar), more measured states are embracing conservative principles.
By repealing the death penalty, those states will save taxpayer dollars that can be redirected towards crime prevention methods that actually work and towards services for victim’s families that help them rebuild their lives. Today, this is what it looks like for conservatives to lead in fiscal responsibility, limiting government, and enshrining the dignity of human life.
Hannah Cox is the National Manager of Conservatives Concerned About the Death Penalty. Hannah was previously Director of Outreach for the Beacon Center of Tennessee, a free-market think tank. Prior to that, she was Director of Development for the Tennessee Firearms Association and a policy advocate for the National Alliance on Mental Illness. To read more of her reports — Click Here Now.