I always supported the death penalty... [But] I concluded that we should eliminate the death penalty wherever we can. Primarily because we cannot guarantee that an innocent person will not be executed.
— Bill Kurtis, producer, Court-TV and former death penalty supporter
For years I supported capital punishment, but I have come to believe that our criminal justice system is incapable of adequately distinguishing between the innocent and guilty. It is reprehensible and immoral to gamble with life and death.
— James Fry, former Texas prosecutor who says he is “no bleeding heart” but changed his mind about the death penalty after a man he sent to prison 27 years earlier was found innocent
Regardless of my personal opinion about the death penalty, I do not have confidence in the criminal justice system as it currently operates to be the final arbiter when it comes to who lives and who dies for their crime. If the State is going to undertake this awesome responsibility, the system to impose this ultimate penalty must be perfect and can never be wrong. But the reality is the system is not perfect – far from it.
— New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson, as he signed into law a bill to repeal the death penalty despite his previous support for the death penalty
...my direct experience prosecuting prison homicides changed my mind [about the death penalty]. I have come to believe that the death penalty is an incalculable drain on our limited criminal justice resources.
— John Connor, former Montana prosecutor for 21 years
It is a hoax on the families of murder victims, on the public at large and on myself as a prosecutor in this state. It is a punishment that does not deliver the justice it promises, prolongs the suffering of those who have lost a loved one and does nothing to actually enhance public safety.
— Edward DeFazio, New Jersey prosecutor who changed his mind about the death penalty after serving on the New Jersey Death Penalty Study Commission
I left the state's attorney's office more than ten years ago, but I still remember the agony of attempting to make the fundamental decision whether to ask a jury or judge to condemn someone to death. Our system invests an individual prosecutor with unfettered discretion to make that decision. I now believe that to do so rationally and fairly is beyond human capabilities.
— Hon. Andrew Sonner, former Maryland State's Attorney who used to support the death penalty
If I were ever killed in the line of duty, I would never, ever want my wife or children to have to suffer the way the families who testified before me have suffered. Instead, I would want to know that the person who did it was behind bars for life, and that my family had the services they needed to heal and the financial support they needed to live without further sacrifice.
— Police Chief James Abbott, who changed his mind about the death penalty after serving on the New Jersey Death Penalty Study Commission.