The Nebraska legislature made history twice recently by voting 30-13 to repeal the death penalty on the bill’s first reading and then 30-16 on the second reading, after defeating a filibuster. A majority of conservatives in Nebraska’s nonpartisan legislature support the measure.
The votes come on the heels of two press conferences in Nebraska, one consisting of conservative legislators and leaders from around the state and another with religious leaders, both calling for capital punishment’s end. Nebraska would be the first “red state” to repeal the death penalty in roughly 40 years. The legislature must vote one more time before the bill is sent to the governor’s office for his signature or veto.
It makes sense that conservatives and religious leaders in Nebraska and elsewhere are opposing capital punishment with greater frequency. Last month, a report was released that stated that the “FBI forensic unit exaggerated evidence that helped to incriminate defendants.” Using unscientific and unreliable forensic analysis of hair samples, thousands of people have been convicted of various crimes, including 32 that resulted in death sentences, of which 12 have already been executed.
Conservatives Concerned in the Media
National headlines were peppered with stories about CCATDP and our endeavors in various states.
• We were featured in the Wall Street Journal, Guardian, Huffington Post (twice, actually), Townhall, Washington Times (also twice!), Western Journalism, Al-Jazeera, Mother Jones, and even The Rachel Maddow Show.
• The Nebraska media markets were abuzz regarding the growing conservative opposition to the death penalty. The conservative push to end capital punishment was featured in the Omaha World-Herald, Lincoln Journal Star, 1011 Now, WOWT NBC Omaha, and many others.
• CCATDP’s Heather Beaudoin was a guest on the Wake up With Dave Akerly radio show discussing why conservatives and evangelicals are finding themselves at odds with capital punishment, and I returned as a guest to the Capitol Hill Show with Tim Constantine.
• Nebraska Conservatives Concerned about the Death Penalty’s Matt Maly penned an op-ed in Rare, detailing why death cases cost so much money.
• Friends of CCATDP were vocal this month as Georgia Republican leader David Burge and conservative Delaware activist Samuel Friedman both authored op-eds describing why they are concerned about the death penalty.
• Learn Liberty, a project of the Institute for Humane Studies produced a short film narrated by Professor Jason Brennan, describing the risks and dangers inherent in today’s capital punishment system.
Conservatives Concerned in the Field
Last month, CCATDP’s Ben Jones spoke at the University of Virginia on a panel organized by Young Americans for Liberty as part of its project “Incarceration Nation.” Ben discussed the problems with the death penalty and current criminal justice policies. There was a great reception to the panel from UVA students, who packed the room and were anxious to learn how they can get involved in efforts working for criminal justice reform.
Also last month, joining conservative Nebraskan leaders and the Nebraska CCATDP in Lincoln, I participated in the press conference calling for repeal of the death penalty. We were well-received, and after the press conference, the legislature voted to repeal capital punishment. Later in the month, I spoke at a well-attended event hosted by Campbellsville University, a private Baptist college in Kentucky.
On May 18, I traveled to Washington DC, where I spoke to the Arlington Falls Church Young Republican club about our broken criminal justice system.
This month we featured 3 new videos of conservatives who are questioning capital punishment. Sebastian Torres, Chairman of Kentucky’s Young Americans for Liberty, expressed why he is concerned about the death penalty. Conor McGarry, Chairman of California’s Young Americans for Liberty, explained why he opposes capital punishment, and Coordinator for the Nebraska Conservatives Concerned about the Death Penalty, Matt Maly, recounted how his principles lead to him support repealing the death penalty.
The North Carolina Conservatives Concerned about the Death Penalty will be tabling at the North Carolina Republican Party’s state convention in Raleigh from June 5-7. If you’re in the area, then be sure to drop by and say hello!