Donald Trump has a strong stance on capital punishment

Source: Pool/Getty Images

On many issues, President Donald Trump’s opinions are murky at best. He’s offered a number of different positions on issues like abortion rights, foreign policy and even his favorite issue, immigration. There’s one issue, though, where Trump has remained unambiguous throughout his campaign, even dating back to his days as a real estate mogul: capital punishment.

Trump is undeniably in favor of the death penalty and has made it clear whenever he can that he supports the state using death as a punishment.

The view a condemned inmate would have from a table inside the death chamber at San Quentin State Prison in San Quentin, California.
Source: Eric Risberg/AP

Trump has a long history of death penalty support

Evidence of Trump’s zeal for the death penalty goes back to the late 1980s. In 1989, five young men, all black or Hispanic, were arrested for the rape of a woman in Central Park. This case, known as the “Central Park Five” case, made national news. Trump decided to spend upwards of $85,000 on a full-page ad in the New York Times with a call to “Bring Back the Death Penalty. Bring Back Our Police!”

The five young men were eventually convicted but later released when DNA evidence pointed to another suspect committing the crime. Still, during his campaign, Trump reiterated his belief that they were guilty.

Police officers gather to remove activists during an anti-death penalty protest in front of the U.S. Supreme Court Jan. 17, 2017 in Washington, D.C.
Source: Brendan Smialowski/AFP

Trump wants people executed who didn't commit homicide

Then there’s the case of Bowe Bergdahl. Bergdahl was the army private captured in Afghanistan after allegedly deserting his unit. Obama traded a number of Taliban prisoners for the release of Bergdahl. At a rally during the campaign Trump commented that he “should have been executed.”

In 2012, Trump called for the death penalty for child molesters. In 2010, he said the death penalty should be on the table for Wikileaks members in connection to the materials leaked by Chelsea Manning. Wikileaks, of course, would go on to being perceived as helping Trump in 2016 by releasing Democratic Party emails.

A big part of Trump’s campaign appeal was his hardline stance on law and order issues – his support for cops, his opposition to groups like Black Lives Matter and his stance that America had turned into “medieval times.” His strong support for the death penalty only underscores that stance.

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Ben Geier

Ben Geier is an experienced writer whose work has appeared in Fortune, The Columbus Dispatch, Time Magazine and various other outlets. He's covered every level of government as well as myriad business issues. Ben is based in Brooklyn and is a graduate of Northwestern University.

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