One of the most interesting proposals likely to be debated during this legislative session comes from Rep. Steve Hickey. The Sioux Falls Republican, a pastor, is trying to convince his fellow lawmakers to repeal the death penalty.
Hickey has now posted a letter online that he sent to his colleagues a few weeks ago. Its quite lengthy, but worth reading. I've linked it below.
Read more: Open Letter to Lawmakers (Rep. Steve Hickey)
Rep. Hickey was scheduled to be on the show yesterday, but we ran into a scheduling problem. We're working to get him rescheduled so you can hear him share his thoughts on repeal.
Frankly, Rep. Hickey would have a better chance of passing a personal income tax than repealing the death penalty. The proposal will be unpopular with lawmakers and the public.
However, it's worth having the discussion. I have found Rep. Hickey's reasoning on the issue quite thought provoking.
I share Rep. Hickey's view that the death penalty does not deter crime. We've got a breed of murderers today that often take their own lives as part of their crimes, so the death penalty offers absolutely no deterrent.
My own feeling is that the death penalty is used too frequently. There are those who can be safely incarcerated without posing any risk to others.
We've also heard the stories of inmates who have found salvation while in prison. The death penalty robs criminals of the opportunity to convert and repent.
I would use the death penalty sparingly. However, I would never repeal it.
The murder of corrections officer Ron Johnson in 2011 should be a reminder to all of us that evil exists in the world. There are those in our state penitentiary who will kill without hesitation or remorse.
These violent and dangerous inmates are a serious threat. They are a constant danger to the safety of the corrections officers who must deal with them daily. And should they ever escape... the general public would be at grave risk.
We must keep the death penalty. Repealing it would be a horrible mistake.
Greg Belfrage is heard mornings 6am-9am on KELO Newstalk 1320 AM / 107.9 FM. Greg can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also follow him on Twitter.