Hillary Clinton Comes Out Against Abolishing The Death Penalty

This is the Democratic front-runner's first mention of the contentious issue on the 2016 campaign trail.

During a campaign stop in New Hampshire on Wednesday, Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton came out against abolishing the death penalty -- the first time she has addressed the issue during the current presidential campaign.

"I do not favor abolishing" the death penalty, she said, qualifying her position by adding that its use should be "very limited and rare," according to press reports.

Clinton has previously acknowledged how the plight of mass incarceration and police brutality affect communities of color disproportionately, and on Wednesday she conceded the death penalty is often administered in a discriminatory way, according to a reporter who attended.

Her view on state-sanctioned executions has remained consistent over the years. During her Senate campaign in 2000, she offered support for the death penalty -- in a seeming attempt to appear moderate on some social issues.

But her position is a marked break from her Democratic primary opponents Bernie Sanders and Martin O'Malley, both of whom oppose capital punishment. O'Malley, for his part, signed a bill in 2013 abolishing the death penalty in Maryland and commuted the death sentences of four death-row inmates as he stepped down from the governorship.

In a statement responding to Clinton's position, O'Malley said the death penalty "is [a] racially-biased, ineffective deterrent to crime, and we must abolish it."

"Our nation should not be in the company of Iran, Iraq, China, North Korea, Saudi Arabia, and Yemen in carrying out the majority of public executions," he said. "That's why I abolished it in Maryland, because it is fundamentally at odds with our values. As President, I would work to build consensus to end it nationally."

Curiously, Clinton's position puts her at odds with Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer, whom her husband, former president Bill Clinton, nominated to the bench in 1994 and who has lately come out as as a vocal opponent of the legality of the practice.

The same year he appointed Breyer, Clinton signed the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994 -- also known as the 1994 crime bill -- which vastly expanded the federal death penalty to about 60 offenses.

Bill Clinton has since renounced the law, whose main provisions are largely seen as responsible for driving up mass incarceration in the United States.

Also on HuffPost:

Hillary Clinton

Support HuffPost

Popular in the Community