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"It's not about crime prevention or crime deterrence or saving money. (When we have executions) we're creating a lot of other residual victims."

Rex Zent, former warden at two state prisons, 27 - year corrections veteran, Columbus Dispatch, June 18, 2001

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Views from those asked to participate in executions

“Sometimes I wonder whether people really understand what goes on down here and the effect it has on us. Killing people, even people you know are heinous criminals, is a gruesome business, and it takes a harsh toll…I have no doubt it’s disturbing for all of us. You don’t ever get used to it” “Has an innocent man ever been executed? Probably. The judicial system is designed to promote fairness, but anyone who expects perfection is asking for an impossibility. Any revamping might make the system better, but because human nature is involved, it won't make it perfect.”
-Jim Willett, former warden at The Walls prison, Huntsville, Texas-oversaw 89 executions, Washington Post, May 13, 2001

A new set of victims is created among the family members of the condemned who watch. I wondered most about the mothers who saw their sons being put to death. Some would just wail out crying. It’s a sound you’ll never hear any place else, an awful sound that sticks with you” “As the warden and servant of the taxpayer, I tried to do the best job I could. As a human being, I see it as a sad affair. But it’s as a Christian that I struggle the most”
-Jim Willett, Houston Chronicle, May 19, 2001

“There was this big old-line officer, a well liked fellow, and he oversaw the executions. Afterwards, he’d get very, very drunk and not come in for several days. It’s terrible, terrible- I get very emotional thinking about it. I certainly don’t like terrorism or murder but there has to be a better way than putting men do death.”
-Steve Dahlsheim, former correction officer and Superintendent Sing Sing prison, New York, Washington Post, 2/12/2005

“It’s kind of hard to explain what you actually feel, you know when you talk to a man and you kind of get to know that person, and then you walk him out of a cell and you take him in there to the chamber and tie him down. And then a few minutes later he’s …gone”
-Kenneth Dean, Major at Huntsville Unit, Witness to An Execution, NPR documentary 2000

“As I read the New Testament, I don’t see anywhere there that killing bad people is a very high calling for Christians. I see an awful lot about redemption and forgiveness”
-James L. Park, former execution officer, San Quentin, California

“ If the [condemned prisoner] was some awful monster why did I feel so bad about it, I wondered. It has been said that men on death row are inhuman, cold-blooded killers. But as I stood and watched a grieving mother leave hers son for the last time, I questioned how the sordid business of executions was supposed to be the great equalizer…The ‘last mile’ seemed an eternity, every step a painful reminder of what waited at the end of the walk. Where was the cold-blooded murderer, I wondered, as we approached the door to the last-night-cell. I had looked for that man before…and I still had not found him-I saw in my grasp, only a frightened child. [minutes after the execution and before heading] out to the press corps, I shook my head. ‘No more. I don’t want to do this anymore’.”
-Don Cabana, former warden of Parchment. Mississippi

“I was just working in the shop and all of a sudden something just triggered in me and I started shaking. And then I walked back into the house and my wife asked 'What's the matter?' and I said 'I don't feel good.' And tears -- uncontrollable tears -- was coming out of my eyes. And she said 'What's the matter?' And I said 'I just thought about that execution that I did two days ago, and everybody else's that I was involved with.' And what it was something triggered within and it just – everybody -- all of these executions all of a sudden all sprung forward.”
-Fred Allen, member of the tie down team, The Walls Prison Unit, suffered a nervous breakdown, Witness to an Execution, NPR documentary 2000

“Before working on Texas Death Row, I strongly supported capital punishment, ‘an eye for an eye’…etc. My attitude evolved into indifference while working on death row. Working in a man’s world was hard enough without factoring in the right or wrong of the death penalty. It was years later that I became increasingly convinced that the death penalty was wrong. Perhaps it was a spiritual awakening which played a part in changing my mind. I also believe it was the experience of the years I worked on death row, seeing the human face of death row, which profoundly changed me.”
-Lorie J. Hopper, former correctional officer on Texas Death Row

“The death penalty is the privilege of the poor”
-Clinton Duffy, former warden of San Quentin

Saturday, July 2, 2022 at 04:42:17 (6000/4000)