The execution of Dennis McGuire on January 16, 2014 shed light on one of the most unfortunate side effects of the death penalty: the trauma we impose on our prison staff.

terrycollinsThe public often does not consider the impact carrying out executions has on those involved. The Catholic chaplain on Ohio’s death row wrote about witnessing an execution, calling the experience “ghastly.” (Read the full article here).

  • Read an op-ed from Terry Collins, former Director of the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction, here.
  • Watch former Prison Warden from Georgia speak about the Troy Davis execution on MSNBC here.
  • Read a letter from 6 Director of Departments of Corrections to Troy Davis’ Pardon Board here.

Not only are we traumatizing prison staff, but quite simply, the death penalty is not an effective law enforcement policy. Polling indicates that law enforcement officials would much rather have the resources we spend on capital punishment for other law enforcement tools.


The debate over whether or not the death penalty serves as a deterrent has been closed: it is not an effective deterrent. Law enforcement officials concur and frankly, feel that they would be able to do a better job without the dysfunction of the death penalty hanging over their heads. Insufficient use of the death penalty is literally ranked last when law enforcement officials are asked, “What interferes with effective law enforcement?”


Looking for more information on how law enforcement and prison officials are harmed by the death penalty? Find more at the Death Penalty Information Center, here.

Want to take action now? Click here to download a sample letter regarding Harming Prison Staff and Law Enforcement that you can send your representative/senator!
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