..."It's not just about the procurement of drugs," said Marc Hyden of Conservatives Concerned About the Death Penalty, an organization that sprouted up in Montana several years ago and has since expanded nationally. "It's not pro-life because it risks innocent life. It's not fiscally responsible because it costs millions more dollars than life without parole." Yet Nebraska's bumbling and occasionally shady attempts to carry out death sentences—along with incidents in neighboring states like the botched execution of Clayton Lockett in Oklahoma—have given rise to another argument that sells among conservatives: the death penalty is just another example of government run amok.
"At the end of the day, this is just another big government program that's really dangerous and expensive but doesn't achieve any of its goals," Hyden told me, summarizing his pitch to Republicans. "They don't need to ask themselves, 'Do some people deserve to die?' The question they need to ask themselves is, do they trust an error-prone government to fairly, efficiently and properly administer a program that metes out death to its citizens? I think the answer to that is a resounding no." . . .