USA Today – Kirsten Powers: Conservative case against death penalty

Anti-capital punishment activists say time is ripe for promoting a culture of life.

Last week’s Road to Majority conservative confab in the nation’s capital had an unlikely exhibitor in the conference hall: opponents of the death penalty.

The activists were in the right place because their opposition stems from conservative principles. Conservatives Concerned About the Death Penalty believe that the faithful who gathered at the annual event hosted by the Faith and Freedom Coalition are ripe for embracing their critical view of capital punishment.

They have their work cut out for them. Yes, support for death penalties has been dropping in a Pew survey — from 78% in 1996 to 55% last year. But this barbaric practice still enjoys strong preference among conservatives, with 69% expressing support in a June ABC News/Washington Post poll. Only 49% of liberals agreed. Among Republicans, support is even higher — at 81%.

So what kind of reception did the activists receive? The group’s advocacy coordinator, Marc Hyden, told me the response was very positive. “The myth we are trying to shatter is that conservatives all support the death penalty.” Hyden, who had worked for the National Rifle Association, said many people who approached the booth expressed support, while one man who didn’t was converted after Hyden laid out the conservative case against the death penalty.