Bridging the Divide, a new report co-written by EJUSA's Shari Silberstein, imagines a new justice system — one that promotes safety, accountability, justice, healing, and fairness.
Fourteen years ago when I started this job, ending the death penalty in any state was an impossible dream. Ending it in a conservative state seemed even more out of reach. Read more from Shari Silberstein »
EJUSA seeks dialogue with various stakeholders directly affected by the death penalty. Here are special resources if you are:
The death penalty is not making our world a safer or better place.
John Hickenlooper, Governor of Colorado
...it is just absurd that we would pull officers from the streets and at the same time spend millions of dollars to have a death penalty system that has not been proven to prevent crime.
Daryl K. Roberts, former chief with 30 years of service to police force in Hartford, CT
The moral and monetary investment of the death penalty is significantly greater than the return to society.
Rick Van Winkler, Superintendent of the Cheshire County House of Correction in NH
Conservatives, especially, should draw this lesson...capital punishment, like the rest of the criminal justice system, is a government program, so skepticism is in order.
George Will, Washington Post columnist 2000
I have come to think of it [the death penalty] as a ridiculous institution...You can't design a system where you can ensure that an innocent person is not executed.
Bruce Gardner, former Alabama District Attorney who prosecuted death penalty cases
It's not about crime prevention or crime deterrence or saving money. [With executions] we're creating a lot of other residual victims.
Rex Zent, former warden at 2 state prisons, 27 year corrections veteran
. . . we're looking at capital punishment as a way to mitigate against the fact that we have taken away many of our moral standards away from our young people . . .
Reverend Pat Robertson, featured speaker at William and Mary
While we must always work to improve our justice system and appeals process, it will never be perfect. Never. But executing a person will always be final.
Matt Randles, pastor at Headwaters Covenant Church (MT)
I spent 17 years, eight months and one day on death row. I was not saved by the system. I was saved in spite of the system.
Juan Roberto Melendez, exonerated in Florida in 2002
The capital punishment system may have been put in place to serve us survivors, but it actually has been a colossal failure.
Kathy Garcia, trauma expert and aunt of a murder victim, who used to support the death penalty
We are in a crisis when our state, which is 4.3 percent African-American, has a death row that is 100 percent African American. A broken system has produced flawed results.
Richard Bloch, Former Chief Deputy District Attorney of Arapahoe County, CO
We need to acknowledge that the death penalty is broken beyond repair.
George Gascon, San Francisco District Attorney and former police chief
If my brother's wife is sentenced to death for her actions, we will have to face years, perhaps decades, of mandatory appeals.
Arlis Keller, testified in CO repeal hearing in 2013
The death penalty is an ineffective and costly government program that diverts resources away from public safety.
I agree with Thomas Jefferson, who once wrote that he would support the death penalty only when the infallibility of human judgment had been demonstrated.
Paul Jacob, Columnist for 'Common Sense'
I think the time has come to decide whether it's worth the cost.
Burley Mitchell, former Chief Justice of the NC Supreme Court and a long time death penalty supporter
[The death penalty means victims’ families are] putting their lives on hold for years, sometimes decades, as they attend new hearings and appeals and relive the murder.
Gail Rice, whose brother Bruce VanderJagt, a Denver policeman, was murdered in 1997
I have seen the ugliness of murder up close and personal. But I have never heard a murderer say they thought about the death penalty as consequence of their actions prior to committing their crimes.
Gregory Ruff, Police Lieutenant, Kansas
If statistics are any indication, the system may well be allowing some innocent defendants to be executed.
Former United States Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor
...it's impossible to streamline death-penalty litigation to justify the cost, because doing so would dramatically increase the risk of wrongful executions.
Former Kentucky Supreme Court Chief Justice Joseph Lambert
[A capital case amounts to] playing on a $100-a-roll table instead of a nickel or dime table.
State Attorney General Buddy Caldwell of Louisiana, who said it would cost him $15,000 to $20,000 to prosecute a second-degree murder case, compared to $250,000 for a death penalty case
Everybody [who took part in executions] suffered. I still get flashbacks.
Dr. Allen Ault, former Warden and Director of the Georgia Department of Corrections, who oversaw five executions
We can never build a system that is able to prevent the execution of those who are actually innocent. To me, this is a compelling argument why we should abolish the Death Penalty.
William Martin, member of the Illinois' commission on Capital Punishment; obtained a capital conviction for Richard Speck resulting in a sentence of death
Despite the best intentions of law enforcement, prosecutors, defense attorneys, judges and jurors, innocent people have been convicted and sentenced to death.
Ray Samuels, Police Chief of Newark, CA
We are so grateful for the assistance of Mona and Laura from EJUSA. We would be floundering if not for their patience, assistance, cheerleading, and expertise.
Barbara Keshen, New Hampshire Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty/ACLU of New Hampshire
The death penalty absolutely costs more money, in fact the DA's office and
the Public Defender's Office, everyone agrees it's much more costly than
Bernie Anderson, Nevada Assemblyman (D - Sparks)
[The death penalty] consumes huge sums of money that could be used for direct victims' services, such as counseling, funeral expenses, and educational help for the children left behind.
Linda L. White, whose daughter was murdered
Unfortunately, no state treasury has a bottomless pit of law enforcement dollars. In making choices about the most effective way to spend them, the death penalty would be last on my list.
Patrick Murphy, former Police Commissioner, Detroit and New York City
The death penalty won't bring my brother back or help to apprehend his murderer. We need to start investing in programs that will actually improve public safety and get more killers off the streets.
Judy Kerr, California, whose brother was murdered
EJUSA has been invaluable to the campaign for repeal in Tennessee. Because of the work of EJUSA, Tennessee’s work has become smarter, more strategic, and poised for success.
Stacy Rector, Tennesseans for Alternatives to the Death Penalty
As the warden of San Quentin, I presided over four executions. After each one, someone on the staff would ask, ‘Is the world safer because of what we did tonight?' We knew the answer: No.
Jeanne Woodford, former director of the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation and the former warden of San Quentin State Prison
Honor my son and other victims of murder by acting with the highest regard for human life. You must act with the minds and spirits at levels higher that the murderer who killed my son.
Carolee Brooks, whose son was murdered
Abolishing the death penalty and using life without parole instead can't fix all the injustices exposed in courts across the nation. But at least no one would be executed as a result.
USA Today Editorial, June 22, 2005
For me and so many other victims’ family members, the death penalty never is the focus of our attention because we face too many other pressing concerns in the aftermath of a loved ones murder.
Carment Rodriguez, whose son, Carlos, was murdered in 2002
From this day forward, I no longer shall tinker with the machinery of death. I feel morally and intellectually obligated simply to concede that the death penalty experiment has failed.
Harry Blackman, Former U.S. Supreme Court Justice
My Tía's killer was her own son -- my cousin. He was in the midst of a psychotic break....Cutting funding to treat mental illness while paying for the death penalty is simply insane.
Deldelp Medina, whose aunt was murdered by another family member
Prosecutors must reveal the dirty little secret they too often share only among themselves: The death penalty actually hinders the fight against crime.
Hon. Robert Morgenthau, former District Attorney for 34 years, New York, NY
The death penalty has failed victims’ family members in virtually every way, and many of us – including many who support the death penalty in principle – have come to support its end.
Vicki Schieber, whose daughter Shannon was murdered in Philadelphia
...being selected as a defendant for a capital case is as random and serendipitous as being struck by lightning.
Robert DelTufo, former Attorney General of New Jersey
I’m here to tell you, as the Mother of a homicide victim, that the death penalty brings as much pain as it does relief, that it creates an entirely new layer of pain.
Janice Greishaber, whose daughter, Jenna, was murdered
I think [the death penalty is] very expensive, and the delays are inordinate, delaying closure for the victims' families.
Rob McKenna, Attorney General for the state of Washington
I was a supporter and believer in the death penalty, but I've begun to see that this system doesn't work and it isn't functional. It costs an obscene amount of money.
Gil Garcetti, former Los Angeles District Attorney
The death penalty simply puts families in a state of suspended animation, almost never delivering on the promise of healing while always holding out the false promise of "closure".
Cathy Ansheles, niece of murder victim Grace Ansheles
At one time I believed that the death penalty would benefit people like my mother and me, but in reality nothing could be further from the truth.
Neely Goen, daughter of victim
It's the roll of the dice. If they can do it to me, they can do it to anyone.
Ray Krone, who was sentenced to die in Arizona for a crime he did not commit
I have evolved to where I don’t think the death penalty is effective.
Evelyn Lundberg Stratton, former Ohio Supreme Court Justice
[T]here is a real worry by jurors of 'I believe in it, but what if we later find out it was someone else and it's too late to do anything about it?'
Vic Wisner, former prosecutor, Houston, TX
Given the irreversibility of the death penalty, the possibility of a wrongful conviction can never be overstated
George Gascon, District Attorney of San Francisco and former police chief.
Much has changed since I voted to reinstate the death penalty twenty years ago. New technologies such as DNA and other evidence have shown that people can make terrible mistakes.
New Jersey Senator Raymond Lesniak, who sponsored the bill to repeal New Jersey's death penalty 25 years after voting to reinstate it
I believe that inside many Americans lies certain uneasiness about capital punishment.
Bill O'Reilly, conservative political commentator
Thank you for your hard work and leadership. We are a better State and Country because of you and Equal Justice USA.
Governor Parris Glendening, former Governor of Maryland, upon repeal of the death penalty in Maryland
Two juries were wrong. Two judges were wrong. The state of Maryland was wrong... I am not here because the system worked. I am here because a series of miracles happened.
Kirk Bloodsworth, who was sentenced to death in MD for a murder he did not commit
You have to pass a test to be a patent lawyer. You have to pass none to try a death penalty case in so many states.
Bill Kurtis, producer, Court-TV and former death penalty supporter
We've had the death penalty since 1994, and we continue to pay for the process with little results... But we continue to cut the programs that could prevent these types of crimes.
Kansas Senator Carolyn McGinn, R-Sedgwick, who sponsored a bill to repeal the death penalty in order to save funds
The death penalty is imposed not only in a freakish and discriminatory manner, but also in some cases upon defendants who are actually innocent.
William Brennan Jr., Supreme Court Justice
It is a human system, and because it is fallible and because it is human, it makes mistakes. Executions make those mistakes irreversible.
Matthew Campbell, former deputy state's attorney for Montgomery and Howard counties
EJUSA became my family on my journey from grieving mother to effective advocate.
Vickye Coward, whose son Tyler was murdered in Connecticut
Lest there be any doubt, the idea that the death penalty is fairly and rationally imposed in this country is a farce.
Judge Boyce F. Martin Jr., in a statement about the Kentucky death penalty system
At least five men who were sentenced to death in Georgia had lawyers who referred to them in court as 'niggers.'
Steve Bright, Southern Center for Human Rights
When it comes to human life, a system that gets it right most of the time should not exist at all.
Sam Millsap, former District Attorney of Bexar County, TX, who used to support the death penalty
[The death penalty is] a waste of time and money...The only thing it does is prolong the agony of the victims' families.
Donald McCartin, self-described right-wing Republican and former California jurist who sent nine men to death row
At some point in this death-penalty debate, the sanctity of innocent life demands that men and women of conservative conscience have to say: Enough.
Rod Dreher, conservative columnist
When the New York courts struck our death penalty, it was EJUSA that gave us the vision and resources to defeat the death penalty entirely.
David Kaczynski, Executive Director, New Yorkers Against the Death Penalty
When you're talking about death, you can't afford to make even one mistake.
Jim Petro, former Ohio Attorney General, now chancellor of the state's university system
The millions of taxpayer dollars we are currently wasting on a dysfunctional death penalty could be used for actual public safety measures.
Darryl Stallworth, former Alameda County Deputy District Attorney.
There is not a single person on death row that had a fully funded private defense. If you're rich, you're not going to get capital punishment - period.
Mark James, Republican State Senator
As error-prone humans, we can't guarantee a fail-safe criminal justice system; therefore, to be truly just we must abolish capital punishment.
Sunil Dutta, lieutenant, Los Angeles Police Department
We should rethink the death penalty in this country. If even one innocent person is wrongly put to death on behalf of the state, for me, that is enough to get rid of it.
John Feehery, Republican strategist and pundit, who used to support the death penalty
As a member of the New York Senate from 1966 to 1989, I voted 12 times to establish the death penalty in New York... I regret my votes in favor of the death penalty.
John R. Dunne, former Assistant Attorney General under President George Bush and former New York State Senator (R)
We really can find no way to do this that will take the arbitrariness out of the system.
Deborah T. Poritz, former chief justice, New Jersey Supreme Court
It is an expensive government program with the power to kill people.
Brent Bozell, founder and president of Media Research Center
It is time for conservatives to do what they do best and insist that a wasteful, inefficient government program gets off the books. Small government and the death penalty don’t go together.
Christy Clark, Republican Representative of Montana
I think I could prove to you that I could put someone in the Waldorf Hotel for 60 to 70 years and feed them three meals a day cheaper than we can litigate a single death penalty case.
Sterling Goodspeed, former District Attorney, Warren County, NY
More and more, the climate is against trying capital cases...
Jim Woodall, Orange and Chatham County, NC prosecutor
Even in the best of circumstances, our system allows for error...As a matter of public respect for our justice system, we cannot tolerate error in execution.
Sheila Simon, former prosecutor and Lieutenant Governor of Illinois
There's just no way I could conclude that the way we do this makes any sense. I have come to the conclude that, in fact, we apply the death penalty in a very arbitrary manner.
Former Virginia Attorney General William Broaddus, once a supporter of the death penalty
Having personally observed the exercise of the death penalty statute over the past two decades, I now conclude that the process under that law is flawed.
Delaware Superior Court Judge Norman Barron, known as the "hanging judge" because of his willingness to impose the death penalty
Conservatives, especially, should draw this lesson... Capital punishment, like the rest of the criminal justice system, is a government program, so skepticism is in order.
George Will, conservative columnist and author
Sandra Day O'Connor, Former U.S. Supreme Court Justice
It's becoming harder to justify the death penalty in the face of evidence that our system is flawed...
Mary Kate Cary, former White House speechwriter for President George H.W. Bush
For the families of murder victims a death sentence almost always represents a false promise… murder victims’ families are sentenced to navigate the system for decades with no end in sight.
Steve Monks, attorney and former GOP chairman in Durham County, NC
I fervently believe that capital punishment should be abolished. It's costing the state a huge amount of money.
Don Heller, former prosecutor who authored California death penalty law
No set of procedures can completely guard against human error. Believe me, I was certain Ronald Cotton was the man who raped me — certain.
Jennifer Thompson, rape victim who mistakenly identified an innocent man as her attacker
Despite the tremendous resources required by capital prosecutions, mistakes are all to common; it is a fundamentally flawed process which dis-serves all involved.
Dave Stetler, Assistant U.S. State's Attorney in Northern District of Illinois
I myself was haunted by the men I was asked to execute in the name of the State of Florida. I would wake up in the middle of the night to find them lurking at the foot of my bed.
Ron McAndrew, former warden, Florida State Prison, who presided over eight executions
I think that any reasonable person would have to reach that conclusion that someone has been executed for a crime they didn't commit.
Dallas District Attorney Craig Watkins
For justice to have any meaning, it must also mean that no innocent person should ever be executed...
Kathleen Parker, conservative columnist who lost several family members to murder
The Constitution guarantees the right to an attorney. It doesn't say the lawyer has to be awake.
Texas trial judge in the case of George McFarland, whose lawyer slept through much of his trial.
In this country, you are better off being rich and guilty than poor and innocent.
I think capital punishment’s day is done in this country. I don’t think it’s fairly applied.
Oliver North, former US Marine Corps Lieutenant Colonel and current conservative political commentator
One capital case absorbs the resources of another 200 cases. I don't think I'm exaggerating. The truth is, I can spend an 18-month period working out 50 major cases or one capital case.
Ashley Pennington, Charleston County, South Carolina Public Defender
What I've learned from looking at the Florida system and the other systems around the country is that the death penalty is a quagmire.
Hon. Gerald Kogan, former Chief Justice of the Florida Supreme Court and former Florida prosecutor, who sought and upheld numerous death sentences
Eliminating the death penalty...will not hinder the prosecutorial capacity to seek, or the court’s ability to impose, ‘life without parole’ sentences for serious, heinous crimes and criminals.
Scott Harshbarger, former District Attorney and former Attorney General of Massachusetts, which has no death penalty
Spending our tax dollars on actually preventing crimes, instead of pursuing death sentences after they've already been committed, will assure us we will have fewer victims.
Gil Garcetti, former District Attorney of Los Angeles County.
[T]here’s no chance California’s death penalty can ever be fixed. The millions wasted on this broken system would be much better spent keeping teachers, police and firefighters on their jobs.
Carlos Moreno, former California Supreme Court Justice
Before working on Texas Death Row, I strongly supported capital punishment,
Lorie J. Hopper, former correctional officer on Texas Death Row
The death penalty is no deterrent, is enormously costly, and riddled with errors.
Daniel Evans, Former Washington State Governor
I came to the conclusion the only vote I could live with was a 'no' vote on the death penalty in Kansas.
Tim Emert, former Kansas state legislator
Instead of investing millions in a death penalty case that strings along victims’ for years we should invest that money in services that will help all victims.
Babette Miller, testified in CO repeal hearing in 2013
I have inquired for most of my adult life about studies that might show that the death penalty is a deterrent. And I have not seen any research that would substantiate that point.
Former U.S. Attorney General Janet Reno
...the death penalty is not an effective law enforcement tool in practice. It is a distraction from justice.
James Wells, National Association of Black Law Enforcement Officers, whose son was murdered
Content on this site is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License