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Students to hear the conservative case against the death penalty at Campbellsville University forum

By Mary Kuhlman
Public News Service

Conservatives historically are pegged as champions of the death penalty, but some say there’s growing momentum to change that narrative.

Hannah Cox, national manager of the group Conservatives Concerned About the Death Penalty, will make the conservative case against capital punishment Monday night at a public forum at Campbellsville University.

Death-penalty opponents say not only does capital punishment cost more than a life sentence, a wrongful execution can’t be reversed. (Photo from Jason Rosenberg/Flickr via PNS)

As a former death penalty supporter, Cox says she now recognizes that the practice doesn’t align with the traditional conservative principles of limited government and fiscal responsibility.

“We know that the government does not operate correctly,” she asserts. “We know there’s corruption. We know that they’re definitely not using our resources correctly.

“Why would I ever think this government could competently handle matters of life and death? Of course they can’t! So, it’s kind of a natural eye-opening moment for a lot of people on the right.”

Cox adds not only does capital punishment cost more than a life sentence, but a wrongful execution also cannot be reversed.

And in order to truly uphold conservative beliefs about the sanctity of human life, Cox argues that view should be consistent from birth through death, regardless of a person’s mistakes.

A Kentuckian is among 164 people on death rows who’ve been exonerated. And while DNA is a beneficial tool, Cox notes it’s only available in fewer than 10 percent of criminal cases.

Cox says she expects more conservatives to change their stance on the issue.

“There’s a bit of a zeitgeist moment happening right now, where people are really paying attention to the criminal justice system,” she states. “There’s a lot of ‘true crime’ out there. There’s a lot of big things happening, both nationally and at the state level, to reform. People are becoming more educated about the realities of our system and how it actually operates.”

John Chowning, executive assistant to the president of Campbellsville University for government, community and constituent relations, says Cox’s visit is part of a Quality Enhancement Plan focused on ethics. He says she’ll also be speaking with individual classes.

“The death penalty, both pro and con, comes up in various classes from various points of discussion from political science, to theology to social work,” he states. “It is an emotional issue that is debated, and we felt like it was appropriate for our students to be presented that case.”

The event at the Badgett Academic Support Center Banquet Hall begins at 6 p.m.

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