An op-ed written by the Chairman of the Oklahoma Republican Liberty Caucus, Marven Goodman, was published today. In the article, he highlighted the many flaws in Oklahoma’s death penalty system and he laid out the conservative case against capital punishment.
The death penalty is falling out of favor around the country – partly because conservatives increasingly believe that it violates our core beliefs of safeguarding life, and supporting fiscal responsibility and limited government. A recent poll showed that support for capital punishment has reached a 40-year low nationally, and Sooner Poll found that the majority of Oklahomans prefer death penalty alternatives. Given our state’s history with capital punishment, this may come as a shock to some, but it shouldn’t. The Sooner State’s poor track record with the death penalty is beyond disconcerting, and I firmly believe that Oklahoma has clearly demonstrated that it cannot be trusted with capital punishment.
Unfortunately, the State of Oklahoma isn’t working to fix these issues. Instead, there is a ballot measure being considered that would add the death penalty to the state’s Bill of Rights, which Goodman mentioned:
It’s time to admit that our death penalty is irreparably flawed, and it violates the basic tenants of conservatism. However, rather than properly addressing our broken capital punishment program, there is an impetuous rush by a select few to add it to our state’s Constitution and deem it constitutional regardless of how state courts rule. This is the goal of State Question 776, and because its aim is to essentially bypass an entire branch of government, the judiciary, it risks violating the system of checks and balances instituted by our forefathers. For someone who believes in constitutional separation of powers, this is a huge step in the wrong direction. Instead of adding our dysfunctional death penalty to the Oklahoma Constitution, we ought to just repeal our capital punishment program.