By M.H. Cavanaugh
Christian Action League
September 25, 2015
RALEIGH – A Republican lawmaker from Greensboro, Rep. John Hardister, called a press conference Tuesday of this week to call for the repeal of the death penalty. Hardister who touts the label of “conservative” said he wants to start a conversation about capital punishment in lieu of garnering support from other Republicans and conservatives against it.
Flanking Hardister at the press conference was Nebraska Sen. Colby Coash, also a Republican, who spearheaded the abolition of the death penalty in his state. Coash talked about the way he came to oppose the death penalty. He argues that there are three conservative reasons for abolishing it, (1) its inefficient, (2) it misplaces power, and (3) it doesn’t deliver justice.
Also flanking Hardister at the press conference was Ernie Pearson, an attorney from Raleigh, who spoke saying that he had always supported the death penalty until he had a change of heart about 18 months ago. Pearson said after thinking and praying about the matter he concluded “[w]e don’t have the right to take away a person’s life if there’s any chance that God can redeem them.” He added his position was a matter of faith. “I feel that, as a Christian, I cannot support the death penalty anymore. I still consider myself a strong law and order person,” said Pearson.
Hardister said he didn’t trust the government to handle a matter with such gravity as an execution. He believes government is too inefficient and makes too many mistakes. He argued it was questionable as to whether capital punishment is actually a deterrent and would prefer it be supplanted with life in prison without the possibility of parole.
Hardister also acknowledged that there were long odds against any repeal of the death penalty in North Carolina, especially considering the legislative leadership in both chambers is solidly pro-death penalty.
Just this session the General Assembly passed HB 774 – Restoring Proper Justice Act, which essentially jump-starts executions after a defacto moratorium of nine years in the Tar Heel state. The legislation that passed and was signed by the governor in August removes many of the road blocks that encumbered the execution process.
Dr. Mark Creech, executive director of the Christian Action League said the press conference was organized by a new and relatively unknown group called N.C. Conservatives Concerned about the Death Penalty. He said the organization is part of a larger national group called Conservatives Concerned About the Death Penalty (CCATDP), which is funded and founded by another liberal and anti-death penalty group, Equal Justice USA, supported by George Soros.
Dr. Creech explained their position on the death penalty is essentially no different than any standard anti-death penalty advocate. “Their arguments present known deceptions or at best simply accept the fraudulent and presume much without investigation. They may call themselves conservatives, but their objectives are the same as the liberals with Equal Justice USA, which is to save every murderer no matter how heinous the crime. There isn’t a hair’s breadth between them,” he said.
“Although they claim support for the death penalty is in decline, the most accurate, recent poll from Angus Reid in April of 2013, demonstrates 86% support for the death penalty, with only 9% opposing. Moreover, I wouldn’t put much confidence in what Sen. Colby Coash has said and done, all of that is apt to change in Nebraska in the near future,” Dr. Creech said.
Dr. Creech was referencing a petition drive by pro-death penalty activists in Nebraska that succeeded in obtaining 166,692 signatures, which is much more than the 57,000 necessary to get the issue on a state-wide ballot vote during the election in November of 2016.
“I think it is highly unlikely, in fact I know of no time it’s ever been done, that the death penalty was repealed by a popular vote. So I think what happened in Nebraska, at the behest of so-called conservatives like Coash and others, is most likely to be overturned,” said Dr. Creech.
Dr. Creech said claims of inefficient government handling of the death penalty are untrue. Of the 25-40 actual innocents that have been discovered and released, they represent 0.4% of the 8400 who have been sentenced to death.
“There is no proof that even one innocent has been executed in the entire modern era. The death penalty has greater controls in pre-trial, at trial procedures, and extensive repeals, etc. It may be the government’s most limited, precise, and monitored program,” he said.
“Let me also say the claim that capital punishment robs an individual of an opportunity at redemption, is a spurious argument,” said Dr. Creech. “The thief on the Cross didn’t lose his opportunity. Neither does someone lose their opportunity to get right with God while sitting on death row. In fact, they have been blessed with something most people never know – the imminence of their death – even the time of their death before it happens – something victims of their malicious murders weren’t likely afforded.”
The Christian Action League (CAL) believes the death penalty is a proper form of justice supported and taught by both the Old and New Testaments. The CAL will vigorously oppose any effort in North Carolina to repeal it.