Hillary Clinton has backed the use of the death penalty during a question and answer session at a college in New Hampshire, in the US.
Intending to speak on another subject, the front runner for the Democratic US presidential nomination was questioned about her views on capital punishment by a member of the audience at the New Hampshire Institute of Politics at St Anselm College.
“I do not favour abolishing it,” Mrs Clinton said, “because I do think there are certain egregious cases that still deserve the consideration of the death penalty.
“But I’d like to see those be very limited and rare, as opposed to what we’ve seen in most states.
“We have a lot of evidence now that the death penalty has been too frequently applied, and too often in a discriminatory way, so I think we have to take a hard look at it,” Mrs Clinton added.
Her standpoint puts her at odds with her running rivals for the Democratic nomination for US president.
Senator Bernie Sanders used a speech on criminal justice reform yesterday to reiterate his call for an end to capital punishment.
He said that the US should lock people up “and throw away the key” when they commit “terrible murders”.
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“But the state itself, in a Democratic, civilised society, should itself not be involved in the murder of other Americans,” Senator Sanders said during a Senate floor speech.
“We are all shocked and disgusted” by “horrific murders” in this country, he said. But at a time of “rampant violence” worldwide, he added, the federal government should not be part of the process.
“Those of us who want to set an example, who want to say that we have to end the murders and the violence that we’re seeing in our country and all over the world, should in fact be on the side of those of us who believe that we must end capital punishment in this country,” Senator Sanders said.
From left: Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders and Martin O'Malley meet before the Iowa Democratic Party's Jefferson-Jackson Dinner on Sunday
Another candidate the Catholic former Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley roiunded on Mrs Clinton, saying that he is fudging the issue as she has done so many other issues in the past.
“The death penalty is racially biased, ineffective deterrent to crime, and we must abolish it,” he said in a statement yesterday.
"Secretary Clinton seems to have a default position to state's rights on many things," he said. "She was very much one who said marriage equality was a state's rights thing, and now she's saying [the death penalty] is a state's rights thing.
“She has said immigration issues like driver's licenses for new American immigrants was a state's rights issue.
“I think the way that we forge consensus and the way we get things done and the way we solve problems is being very clear about our principles, and I think that leaders who are effective don't wait for the polls to tell you that it's safe."
All candidates for the Republican presidential nomination are in favour of keeping the death penalty.