Eleven years after supervising his first execution as at the Florida State Prison at Starke, former warden Ron McAndrew is urging an end to the death penalty. McAndrew is calling on states to abandon capital punishment and replace it with life without parole, a punishment he notes is worse than the death penalty and protects states from executing an innocent person. He observes, “(T)he most severe punishment you could ever give anyone would be to lock them in a little cage made out of concrete and steel … with a steel cot, a mattress that is 2 inches thick, a stainless steel toilet that does not have a lid, and you leave them there for the rest of their natural life. There can’t be a more severe punishment than that.”

McAndrew oversaw three executions during his tenure at Starke, including the infamous botched electric chair execution of Pedro Medina in 1997. After that experience, he led Florida’s transition from the electric chair to lethal injection before retiring from the Florida Department of Corrections. Though he has started a new career as a corrections consultant, McAndrew notes that he will never be able to leave behind the experience of putting people to death. He says that the process leading up to an execution and the act itself was a horrifying experience and that he now realizes the death penalty is “an absolute political manipulation - a politician’s best toy.” He said that after careful reflection on his role in carrying out executions he now realizes, “I had no business standing there.”

(Tallahassee Democrat, June 29, 2007) See New Voices and Life Without Parole.