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OUR VIEW: Death penalty discussion good for Legislature

State Rep. Steve Hickey will introduce a measure during the current session of the South Dakota Legislature that, if passed, will end capital punishment in South Dakota.

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Hickey, a minister from Sioux Falls, has said he has, in the past, been in favor of the death penalty but he has since changed his mind.

It’ll be interesting to see how far Hickey’s proposal goes. Many states do not have the death penalty, including Iowa, North Dakota and Minnesota.

During a meeting last week with Gov. Dennis Daugaard, we asked about the death penalty and the governor’s opinion of it.

“We can lock people up and we can say that a life term will address the problem, but you can’t keep those people in solitary confinement,” the governor said. “When you give people that are dangerous a certain amount of freedom, sometimes they kill people, even in the prison.”

Daugaard said he is supportive of the death penalty. He also has been governor during executions in the state.

We agree with the governor, and our official stance is that we do agree with the death penalty, for the most heinous and dastardly crimes.

Perhaps it’s an eye-for-an-eye mentality that is slowly becoming less vogue, but we aren’t alone. The governor agrees with it, and so does South Dakota Attorney General Marty Jackley, who likely will argue that the death penalty is appropriate for vile crimes.

It certainly is a subject that is becoming more controversial as years pass. Even our own editorial board is split on the subject. Perhaps the official opinion of this newspaper will change in the coming months or years, as The Daily Republic’s publisher moves on — as is planned this spring — and new management takes over.

Considering the deep feelings that are stirred by this subject, we’re glad Hickey is bringing this proposal to the Legislature this year. All the better to get a good reading on how people really feel about capital punishment. It should make for a great debate.

Our hunch is that the majority of South Dakotans — or at least those in the Legislature — agree with our official stance and the Hickey bill will not pass.