Clinton's Poor Stance On Death Penalty Puts Her At Odds With Voters

Jessica Renae Buxbaum
During last night’s debate, the candidates were asked if they support the death penalty. Clinton responded she does but only for “particularly heinous crimes.”

hillary clinton, bernie sanders

As the war between who is more progressive rages on, Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton convinced progressive voters she isn’t on their side with her problematic response on capital punishment.

During Thursday night’s debate, the candidates were asked whether or not they support the death penalty. Clinton responded she does but only for “particularly heinous crimes.”

“I do, for very limited particularly heinous crimes, believe it is an appropriate punishment, but I deeply disagree with the way that too many states still are implementing it,” Clinton said. “So if it were possible to separate it out, the federal from the state system by the Supreme Court, that would I think be an appropriate outcome.”

While Clinton’s rival, Sen. Bernie Sanders’, response better fit with the progressive agenda.

“Too many innocent people, including minorities, African-Americans have been executed when they were not guilty,” Sanders said. “But second of all, and maybe in a deeper reason, of course there are barbaric acts out there, but in a world of so much violence and killing, I just don’t believe the government itself should be part of the killing.”

Sanders’ answer touches upon a noted point from the more radical left that capital punishment is a crucial part of criminal justice reform and racial justice.

As noted by the American Civil Liberties Union, racial prejudice is directly tied to the death penalty as people of color are disproportionately executed with 43 percent of minorities killed since 1976. In addition to the stark racial contrast, more than 4 percent of individuals are wrongfully executed, again demonstrating the dire need for reform.

Sanders recognizes the inherent flaws of capital punishment, but Clinton seems mildly satisfied with the system as a fair punishment for “heinous crimes” — a rather broad, vague categorization.

A 2015 Pew Research Center survey found that 56 percent of Democrats oppose the death penalty. Clinton’s rationale will not only fall short with the core Democratic base, but with progressives as well as the Twittersphere so eagerly jumped on the former Secretary of State’s stance.

On the progressive scale, Sanders keeps racking up the score while Clinton’s more moderate, establishment convictions are losing out. 

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Banner image credit: Reuters