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Ending NC's Death Penalty: A Conservative Issue for Some

PHOTO: Raleigh attorney Steve Monks is a member of Conservatives Concerned About the Death Penalty. Photo courtesy of Monks.
PHOTO: Raleigh attorney Steve Monks is a member of Conservatives Concerned About the Death Penalty. Photo courtesy of Monks.
October 23, 2013

RALEIGH, N.C. - The push to end the death penalty traditionally has been part of progressive politics, but a growing number of Republicans now are asserting that state executions run counter to conservative priorities as well.

Raleigh attorney Steve Monks, a member of the group "Conservatives Concerned About the Death Penalty," is among them. From a financial perspective, he said, capital punishment punishes the system more than the inmate.

"Death by incarceration is always cheaper than death by injection, period," he said, "From a financial standpoint, it doesn't make sense."

A recent Duke University study found that North Carolina spent $21 million in 2005 and 2006 alone on death penalty cases. The figure includes extra payments to jurors, post-conviction and resentencing hearing expenses, and additional costs within the prison system to house Death Row inmates.

Monks said state-sponsored executions also go against his ideological beliefs.

"As a conservative, one of the primary things that concerns me, on a personal level, I believe in the sanctity of life," he said. "It is inconsistent to be 'pro life' with respect to abortion and not be 'pro life' with respect to the issue of the death penalty."

Monks pointed to research which found that the death penalty doesn't deter crime. According to the Death Penalty Information Center, 80 percent of the nation's executions occur in southern states, and yet the region contines to have the nation's highest murder rate overall.

The Duke report on death-penalty costs is online at deathpenaltyinfo.org.

Stephanie Carroll Carson, Public News Service - NC