NEW VOICES: Former Death Row Warden Opposed Death Penalty

Donald Cabana, the former warden of the Mississippi State Penitentiary who died recently, spent many years actively opposing the death penalty. Having supervised several executions, Cabana was particularly disturbed about one in which the inmate may have been innocent. He said, “[H]owever we do it, in the name of justice, in the name of law and order, in the name of retribution, you … do not have the right to ask me, or any prison official, to bloody my hands with an innocent person’s blood.” He spent many years speaking about his views on capital punishment in classrooms, public forums, and before state legislators. Cabana believed the death penalty is not a deterrent, is expensive to maintain, and is an inhumane form of punishment for those who face it and for those who have to carry it out. He noted, “There is a part of the warden that dies with his prisoner.”

(B. Weber, “Donald Cabana, Warden Who Loathed Death Penalty, Dies at 67,” New York Times, October 13, 2013). See New Voices.