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Conservatives Changing Minds About The Death Penalty

Alex Brandon/AP

On October 25, former Republican Utah Senator Stephen Urquhart spoke at the Conservatives Concerned About the Death Penalty press conference in Washington D.C.  

He talked about a study published by the organization which found from 2000 to 2012 the number of Republican state lawmakers sponsoring death penalty repeal bills hadn’t risen above single digits, but in 2013 the number of Republican sponsors reach 20. Lobbyist like Urquhart claim it only takes him three minutes to change a person’s mind about capital punishment.

“Never have I seen people’s opinions change as quickly as when I would lay out these facts.” Urquhart said. “I would go to them and say, ‘You’re in favor of the death penalty, right?’ They would say, ‘Right’. 'Ok, give me three minutes,' and so I would lay out those facts and at the end of those three minutes they would say, ‘Dang, I have to think about this’ and then a majority of them voted to repeal the death penalty.”

Urquhart said the death penalty is an issue because it is costing tax payers more, turns prisoners into celebrities and denies closure to victim’s families.

In 2016, Urquhart sponsored a bill that would eliminate the death penalty in Utah but when it failed to pass, Urquhart decided to try a different approach to change republican lawmakers minds.

As an alternative to the death penalty, Urquhart suggests to instead punish prisoners by sentencing them to life in prison.

“Life of imprisonment saves tax payers money, provides swift and final justice and condemns murderers to an ignominious demise outside the public’s gaze and attention,” Urquhart said.

Today, 30 Republican lawmakers representing five different states say they plan to sponsor legislation that would abolish the death penalty.