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24 January 2017

Republican Lawmaker Says Death Penalty Violates Conservative Values

2016 marked a dubious distinction for Georgia, and a GOP lawmaker is not celebrating it.

Nine prisoners were put to death by lethal injection in the Peach State last year; more than any other state.

State Representative Brett Harrell (R - Snellville) wants to make sure Georgia never lays claim to that title again.

(Rep. Brett Harrell announces Georgia Conservatives Concerned About the Death Penalty at the State Capitol.)
"I am skeptical of our government’s ability to implement efficient and effective programs, and so a healthy skepticism of our state’s death penalty is warranted,” Rep. Harrell said. “Many individuals have been wrongly convicted and sentenced to die. Meanwhile, taxpayers are forced to pay for this risky government program, even though it costs far more than life without parole.”

The Snellville Republican made these comments while announcing a new organization, Georgia Conservatives Concerned About the Death Penalty, at a Capitol news conference.

Georgia Conservatives Concerned About the Death Penalty is part of a national movement urging limited government proponents to re-think supporting state-administered executions.

Marc Hyden, the national coordinator of Conservatives Concerned About the Death Penalty, says the Georgia chapter aims to spark a healthy discussion in the legislature about the death penalty's failures.

"Our formation is timely," Hyden said. "Georgia has a poor track record with capital punishment that violates conservative principles.

"It gives an error-prone government immense power."

A report released by the state Department of Corrections lists six dozen prisoners who were sitting on death row as of January 1, 2016.

When asked if Rep. Harrell would be introducing a death penalty repeal bill this session, Hyden said no.

"While the time is always right to repeal a broken government program, the General Assembly needs time to critically examine the death penalty. This has not transpired in many years." Hyden said.

"We will continue fostering a candid discussion at the grassroots level and hosting events and conducting outreach to educate the grassroots on the death penalty."