NEW VOICES: Former San Quentin Warden Now Dedicated to Ending Death Penalty

Jeanne Woodford (pictured), the former director of the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation and Warden of San Quentin during 4 executions, recently became the Executive Director of Death Penalty Focus, one of the largest nonprofit advocacy organizations in the nation dedicated to repealing capital punishment. During her years in corrections, Woodford came to the conclusion that the death penalty was wasteful, discriminatory and failed to make the public safer. She recently spoke about her conflicts in presiding over executions: “I never was in favor of the death penalty, but my experience at San Quentin allowed me to see it from all points of view. I had a duty to carry out, and I tried to do it with professionalism. The death penalty serves no one. It doesn’t serve the victims. It doesn’t serve prevention. It’s truly all about retribution.” Woodford added, “There comes a time when you have to ask if a penalty that is so permanent can be available in such an imperfect system. The only guarantee against executing the innocent is to do away with the death penalty.”

(C. Williams, “Former California prisons leader joins fight against death penalty,” Los Angeles Times, May 11, 2011). Read more New Voices.