John Connor, who served as chief special prosecutor in Montana for 21 years and who prosecuted five prison homicide cases, is now calling for the repeal of Montana’s death penalty. Connor originally believed that the death penalty was needed to keep correctional officers safe from inmates serving life in prison without parole. But through his experience he found, “The reality is that the death penalty is not, and never has been, a deterrent. Prison safety depends on proper staffing, equipment, resources and training. Certainly the money spent on trying to put someone to death for over 20 years could find better use in addressing those practical needs of our correctional system.”
Connor praised the work of state correctional officers and said, "I would never advocate for repealing the penalty if I thought it placed our correctional personnel at risk. During the years I prosecuted cases of violence in the prison, I learned to greatly admire and respect the dedicated corrections professionals that care for and manage the inmate population . . . But the best way to protect our correctional professionals is to recognize the need for a well-trained staff, for the commitment of adequate resources to operate the institutions safely, and for innovative management incentives that serve to reduce the opportunity for prison violence."