NEW VOICES: Former District Attorney Changes Mind On Death Penalty

A former California deputy district attorney recently explained how he had changed his views on the death penalty after once arguing for it at trial.  From that experience, he concluded he “won’t do it again.” As the prosecutor in a heinous murder case, Darryl Stallworth found himself feeling more hesitant about the use of the death penalty as the trial progressed. Stallworth stated, “I was no longer certain what would be accomplished by executing [the defendant].” Although he argued for the death penalty, the jury returned a sentence of life in prison without parole. He remarked, “Though I had lost, I knew justice had been served. I realized I could no longer argue for the death of another human being no matter what atrocious things he or she may have done. I now understand that the death penalty is an ineffective, cruel and simplistic response to the complex problem of violent crime.”

Stallworth went on to add, “Our limited resources could be better spent on programs that focus on stopping violence before it starts, such as preventing child abuse and drug addiction – programs that will prevent another child from becoming the next [murderer].” After serving as the Alameda County deputy district attorney from 1992 until 2007, he says he hopes “more will realize, as I have, that the state [of California] will be a better and safer place when we replace the death penalty with permanent imprisonment.”
(D. Stallworth, "Death penalty purpetuates vicious cycle of violence,"San Jose Mercury News, July 6, 2008).  See New Voices.