Washington state Rep. Brad Klippert serves on two committees in the House, the Judiciary and Public Safety Committees, which could consider a death penalty repeal. Klippert spoke to Think Out Loud host Dave Miller as part of the show’s series on capital punishment.
Klippert says while the public at large is split on the issue, he believes his constituents, like himself, firmly support the death penalty. “I think it’s best for the citizens of Washington state, in the interests of swift and sure justice. Justice is the main thing for me. To ensure that justice in Washington state takes place.”
Klippert says the crime that landed convicted murderer Clark Richard Elmore on death row, a death sentence that Governor Jay Inslee recently gave a reprieve to, illustrates the need for capital punishment.
“Let’s just pause for a second and slow down. Fourteen-year-old girl, raped and then murdered. That is totally and completely unacceptable in a civilized society. And cannot ever be acceptable. And when someone does something like that to a 14-year-old-girl … they have given up their right to live on this earth.”
"Think Out Loud" conversations about capital punishment in Oregon
Klippert says his experiences as a Pentecostal minster inform his view of the death penalty. He says his faith is a “guide for my entire life — God’s word, the Bible. And as a legislator, I use the constitution of the United States, the constitution of Washington state. And I also use God’s word, the Bible, as a guide for me as a legislator.”
He acknowledged some Christians read the Bible differently when it comes to capital punishment. “There’s 66 books in the Bible, and before you read the New Testament, you can choose to read … the Old Testament, which strongly supports, and in fact demands, that if someone takes the life of one, that their life should be taken, too.”
Klippert says the taxpaying citizens of Washington state are now on the hook for Elmore’s living expenses in prison. “I don’t think they should have to do that,” Klippert says.
The death penalty appeals process is too cumbersome and prevents “swift and sure” justice, Klippert says. “It’s too long, too drawn out and … way too expensive.”
Klippert is also a sheriff’s deputy in Benton county. He says he has firsthand experience that informs his perspective.
“I have personally had to witness the horrible atrocities that some of our citizens commit onto other fellow citizens and it is gruesome, it is horrible and when you have to see that, you realize what that person, that victim had to go through, what they had to suffer before they died. And I don’t wish that upon anyone, and that’s why I choose to bring an end to similar actions.”
If the death penalty were administered consistently and swiftly throughout Washington state and the country as a whole — something Klippert acknowledges is not happening now — he believes the practice would serve as an excellent deterrent. “I think if we once again, exercised swift and sure justice in the United States that would come to the attention to others that might think that’s an option.”
Klippert also opposes abortion rights, a position some might find inconsistent with a pro-death stance. But he strongly disagrees. “[Fetuses] have done nothing wrong. They’ve done nothing to deserve a sentence of death, through abortion. Whereas this person that we talked about earlier, who raped and killed a 14-year-old girl, that’s something they did, they made that choice, they made that out of their own intention, and their own knowledge and so they are bringing the death penalty upon themselves. Two totally different things.”