Even the death penalty’s traditional supporters — law enforcement, prosecutors, and prison officials — are starting to change their minds about the need for the ultimate punishment.
A new group of public safety officials has come together from across the nation to express serious concerns about the death penalty, and a former North Carolina police chief is one of its leaders.
Gerald Galloway, the former police chief in Southern Pines and past president of the N.C. Chiefs of Police Association says the death penalty is dysfunctional, error-prone, and does nothing to improve public safety. In fact, he says it diverts resources that law enforcement could use to prevent and solve crimes.
Galloway told The Crime Report:
“The system is unfair. It is too expensive. Some innocent people end up on death row, and victims’ families wait for justice that never occurs.”
Galloway is one of three co-chairs of the newly formed Public Safety Officials on the Death Penalty, a group that’s proving false the idea that the death penalty enjoys universal support among the people who administer it. Its members say that, in light of the 150 death row inmates across the country who have been exonerated, there is too great a risk of executing an innocent person.
Galloway is one of many public safety officials in North Carolina who have begun to voice concerns about the use of the death penalty:
- I. Beverly Lake, former Chief Justice of the N.C. Supreme Court, said recently that the legal system is fundamentally unfair to some defendants and, in light of that, he questions whether the death penalty should still be used.
- In the wake of the exoneration of Leon Brown and Henry McCollum, who spent 30 years on death row for a crime he did not commit, Robeson County District Attorney Johnson Britt, said the death penalty was not a crime deterrent and its usefulness should be “re-examined” by the state legislature.
- Former Attorney General Rufus Edmisten, who once fought for executions, said last fall that he was reconsidering his support for capital punishment.
- Vince Rabil, a one-time Forsyth County prosecutor who put at least five people on death row, wrote an op-ed in December arguing for an end to the “archaic practice” of the death penalty.
- And most recently, after a Wake County jury rejected the death penalty in favor of life without parole for the sixth time in a row, Wake District Attorney Lorrin Freeman said the community had sent a message and that she might reconsider pursuing the death penalty in future cases.
When even those closest to the death penalty begin to question the need for its continued existence, it’s time to reconsider whether North Carolina should still be spending millions each year on a punishment that we no longer have the faith to carry out.