The conservative case for capital punishment

The conservative case for capital punishment

On Tuesday night, Oklahoma prisoner Clayton Lockett died of a heart attack after the lethal injection cocktail that was supposed to kill him didn’t work.

Pretty much everyone admits that the execution of this convicted murderer was “botched.” My colleague Andrew Cohen bemoans the apparent judicial failings that led up to the failed execution. The White House declared that the whole thing fell short of “humane standards.”


In any event, this failed execution in Oklahoma has catapulted the topic of capital punishment back into the national spotlight. So this is perhaps a good opportunity to explain why a “bleeding heart conservative” such as yours truly still supports the death penalty (if only in cases of especially heinous acts.)

This isn’t a clear-cut Right versus Left issue, of course. A lot of conservatives oppose capital punishment. Some social conservatives see support of the death penalty as inconsistent with opposition to abortion. (The difference, of course, is that unborn babies are innocent.)

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