Sunday, October 23, 2016

Death Penalty support plunges to 40-year low & it is time to end mandatory minimum sentencing

An Innocent Man Could Be Put To Death. I want to thank the 100,000 plus supporters who signed Kevin Cooper's petition who voiced on behalf of helpless Kevin. After nearly eight months more than 109,000 supporters have signed the petition.
Kevin Cooper's attorneys have already drafted a clemency letter and submitted the letter along with your petition to the office of Governor of California Jerry Brown. Without your support...Read more 
Florida’s death penalty has remained in the national spotlight as of late. In January, the Sunshine State’s capital sentencing scheme was ruled unconstitutional because it gave judges, rather than jurors, too much power in the death penalty sentencing process. As a result, Florida’s legislature passed a bill requiring at least a 10-2 jury vote in order to sentence someone to die, but this statute was quickly deemed unconstitutional by a Miami-Dade judge.

However, the courts didn’t settle the matter until recently when the decision was appealed to the state’s Supreme Court, which agreed that Florida’s sentencing statute was a constitutional violation. Until the legislature addresses this issue, Florida is effectively without a death penalty, which should be a welcome hiatus given the state’s poor record with capital punishment.

Meanwhile, the campaign to retain the end of Nebraska’s death penalty is going full-steam and gaining support from all constituencies. Many murder victims’ families, law enforcement officers, religious groups, death row exonerees, and well-known conservatives have all called on Nebraska to keep the death penalty a thing of the past. Recently, the state’s Republican Liberty Caucus endorsed the Retain campaign. Given that a conservative economist estimated that Nebraska’s death penalty costs an additional $14.6 million annually, it’s understandable why many are reevaluating their views on capital punishment.

National polls are also reflecting the increasing number of people who are turning against the death penalty. Pew Research Center’s latest survey on capital punishment shows voters' growing opposition to it. The polling group surveyed Americans and discovered that support for the death penalty dropped by seven points in a single year and is at the lowest point since 1972. The tide is definitely turning against capital punishment.

Conservatives Concerned in the field

CCATDP has been actively educating individuals on the death penalty’s failures at conferences and speaking engagements, and just two weeks ago, I attended the State Policy Network’s national conference in Nashville, TN. Most of the attendees were conservative or libertarian think tank professionals. While I was there, I met numerous new supporters who believe the death penalty is both wasteful and unnecessary. I was also able to reconnect with a host of think tank leaders who are already supporting CCATDP’s mission.

Conservatives Concerned in the media
• I returned as a guest to Liberty Talk Radio with Joe Cristiano to chat about the death penalty and why conservatives and libertarians increasingly believe capital punishment conflicts with their principles. You can watch the segment here.
• I was interviewed by KOSU on Oklahoma’s state question on the death penalty and why conservatives should oppose it.
• CCATDP was additionally mentioned in the Kentucky New Era and in the Current-Argus.

Upcoming

On Monday, October 31, at 7 pm local, CCATDP’s Charles Koch Communications Fellow, Thomas Johnson, will be presenting the conservative case against capital punishment to Texans for Accountable Government. The event will be at Mister Tramps Sports Pub & Café in Austin, TX. If you’re in the neighborhood, then please attend and tell Thomas hello!

Share your concerns
Pew Research Center’s latest poll is extremely encouraging, and it appears that death penalty support is shrinking with each passing year. At Conservatives Concerned, we hope to reach as many conservatives as possible and share the message that the death penalty is irrevocably broken and inconsistent with our principles. For those of you who would like to join our effort, we encourage you to share Pew’s poll on Facebook by clicking here. Together, we can educate the public about the death penalty’s many shortcomings.

The petition to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and House Majority Leader Paul Ryan reads: 
"End mandatory minimum sentencing policies for drug offenders and solitary confinement for juvenile detainees. Call a vote for the Sentencing Reform and Corrections Act now.”

Tell Sen. McConnell and Rep. Ryan: Fix America’s broken criminal justice system.
America’s criminal justice system is broken. With five percent of the world's population but a quarter of its prisoners, we are at a crisis point. Our criminal justice system locks up millions of people, tears families apart, fails to make our communities safer and wastes $80 billion a  year on mass incarceration.1

People of color bear the brunt of this injustice, but there’s finally an opportunity to make change.

The Sentencing Reform and Corrections Act would end mandatory minimum sentencing for drug offenders and solitary confinement for juvenile detainees, two deeply damaging and discriminatory criminal justice policies. It’s one of the most significant criminal justice reform bills to be introduced in Congress in the last five years, and it’s got bipartisan support, but Congress is dragging its feet. We can’t let this bill die. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Speaker of the House Paul Ryan could schedule floor votes on the Sentencing Reform and Corrections Act as soon as Congress come back from fall recess. Speak out now to help make sure they do.


The Sentencing Reform and Corrections Act seeks to undo one of the most devastating policies of the failed war on drugs - mandatory minimum sentencing. Mandatory minimums pushed tens of thousands of people convicted of nonviolent, low-level drug offenses into decades-long prison sentences, destabilizing families and entire communities, the majority of them Black and Latino. Felony convictions also constrain people’s lives once they are released from prison - making it impossible for them to find employment, housing and otherwise restart their lives. The Sentencing Reform and Correction Act would retroactively reduce some of the harshest drug sentences, allowing thousands of people to leave prison early. The bill would also prohibit the solitary confinement of juvenile offenders in federal prisons, a barbaric practice known to cause irreparable psychological damage. Teens who are severely isolated, with no human contact for days, sometimes weeks, experience increased suicide rates and stunted development.

Lawmakers should support criminal justice policies that keep our communities safer and end discriminatory laws that oppress people of color and young people.


Mass incarceration is one of today’s most important civil rights issues. The United States spends $80 billion a year on mass incarceration and in 2013, and 11 states spent more on prisons than education.2 Of the 2.2 million people currently incarcerated in the United States, almost 60 percent are people of color. Nationally, Black people are five times more likely to be incarcerated as white people.3 The number of people who are incarcerated in the U.S. continues to rise at an alarming rate. Between 1980 and 2014, the incarceration rate grew by more than 220 percent. Right now, the U.S. incarceration rate is more than four times the world average.4

The Sentencing Reform and Corrections Act will keep thousands of people out of prison, retroactively reduce overly harsh sentences for drug offenders currently serving time and end the solitary confinement of youth in federal prisons. Tell Sen. McConnell and Rep. Ryan to pass meaningful prison reforms now. Time is running out.

Tell Sen. McConnell and Rep. Ryan: End destructive criminal justice policies. Call a vote on the Sentencing Reform and Correction Act now. Click the link below to sign the petition.


References
  1. “Economic Perspectives on Incarceration and the Criminal Justice System,” Executive Office of the President of the United States, April 2016.
  2. ibid.
  3. Nicole Puglise, “Black Americans incarcerated five times more than white people – report” The Gaurdian, June 18, 2016.
  4. ibid.