Jeanne Woodford resigned as director of the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation four years ago, dismayed over the state’s clinging to policies such as the death penalty that she had concluded are wasteful, discriminatory, and fail to make the public safer, says the Los Angeles Times. As the state tries to restart the execution machinery after a five-year legal hiatus, Woodford has crossed to the other side of the debate over capital punishment. She will become director of the abolitionist nonprofit Death Penalty Focus.
“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,” Woodford, 56, said in explaining how she had to put her personal abhorrence of execution aside to do her job. “The death penalty serves no one. It doesn’t serve the victims. It doesn’t serve prevention. It’s truly all about retribution.” Woodford sees an opportunity to get rid of the death penalty in the current quest for budgetary restraint. If the public can be educated about the true costs of capital punishment — at least $200 million a year, she says — as well as its potential for irreversible error, support for the ultimate penalty would wither, she predicts.