Groups Are Trying to Abolish the Death Penalty

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. — Protesters and supporters came out Monday for the execution of Rodney Berget. South Dakota is one of 30 states that still serve capital punishment. Now, groups are making a point to abolish the death penalty.

“When I was out there I was saying we might as well be at the guillotine right now. That’s how gross it feels,” says Heather Smith ACLU’s Executive Director.

Smith describes the scene at the state penitentiary ahead of Rodney Berget’s execution.

Smith is passionate about seeing the end of the death penalty.

“As South Dakotan’s I want to believe we are better than this eye for an eye tactic,” says Smith.

The state’s last execution was October 2012. Since then groups are acting.

“For the last six years legislatively we’ve tried to repeal the death penalty,” says Denny Davis.

Davis is with South Dakotan’s for Alternatives to the Death Penalty.

He says executions gather tremendous costs and time, and could be better used elsewhere.

“We are human beings. We don’t need to do this in South Dakota. We have the means to keep society safe and to keep people in prison for the rest of their lives without parole,” says Davis.

However when it comes to being in support of the death penalty people are mixed.

“It’s very tough. You don’t want to see somebody die, but sometimes it’s well deserved,” says Jason Druda of Sioux Falls.

“I am for the death penalty, but I’m also against it because it’s a cruel and unusual way of dying,” says Tim Riessen of Sioux Falls.

This execution is the states 4th lethal injection since reinstating the death penalty in the late 1970s. It’s a list that Davis does not want to see grow.

“We’re better people than that. I don’t think that we need to do this, and our great hope is that we won’t have to do this anymore,” says Davis.

Supporters of the death penalty were gathered outside the prison, but did not want to talk on camera. Many said they were there in support of Ronald Johnson’s family.

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