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NEW VOICES: Former Georgia Chief Justice and Conservative Republican Leader Oppose Death Penalty

Posted on May 13, 2015

NEW VOICES: Former Georgia Chief Justice and Conservative Republican Leader Oppose Death Penalty

Two prominent Georgians, former Georgia Supreme Court Chief Justice Norman Fletcher (pictured, l.), and David J. Burge (pictured, r.), the Chairman of Georgia’s 5th Congressional District Republican Party, have recently voiced their opposition to the death penalty. Justice Fletcher voted to uphold numerous death sentences during his 15 years on Georgia’s highest court. Since retiring from the Court in 2005, his views have changed. “With wisdom gained over the past 10 years, I am now convinced there is absolutely no justification for continuing to impose the sentence of death in this country,” Justice Fletcher said. “There can be no doubt that actually innocent persons have been executed in this country,” Justice Fletcher said. He now believes that the death penalty is “morally indefensible” and “makes no business sense.” Mr. Burge voiced similar concerns in an op-ed in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, saying that “Our government is not perfect, and when you give an imperfect state the power of life and death, innocent lives will inevitably be exposed to the fallibility of the system.” He called the death penalty “plagued by frequent errors, inefficiency and waste.” A lifelong conservative Republican, Burge stated that “Capital punishment runs counter to core conservative principles of life, fiscal responsibility and limited government. The reality is that capital punishment is nothing more than an expensive, wasteful and risky government program.”

He continued, “It fails the very people it is supposed to serve: victims’ families and society as a whole.” Burge said he has come to believe that “the death penalty simply has become far too expensive and cumbersome to administer in our state” and “is no longer worth the cost or risk for Georgia.”

(B. Rankin, “Former justice calls for end to death penalty,” Atlanta Journal-Constitution, May 13, 2015; D. Burge, “Death penalty too costly, inefficient,” Atlanta Journal-Constitution, May 7, 2015.) See New Voices.