A Pink Cadillac, An IQ of 63, and a Fourteen-Year-Old From South Carolina: Why I Can no Longer Support the Death Penalty

Mark L. Earley, Sr. *

If you believe that the government always “gets it right,” never makes serious mistakes, and is never tainted with corruption, then you can be comfortable supporting the death penalty. I no longer have such faith in the government and, therefore, cannot and do not support the death penalty.

I supported the death penalty for all of my public life spanning from 1987 to 2001—as a Virginia State Senator, Attorney General, and Republican candidate for governor. Today, I can still make a conceptual argument as to why it should be a tool in the arsenal of a prosecutor—but it is just an argument. And, to me, the argument is tired, strained, and no longer defensible.

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  Criminal Defense and Trial Attorney, Earley Legal Group, LLC, Leesburg, Virginia. J.D., 1982, College of William and Mary, Marshall Wythe School of Law; B.A., 1976, College of William and Mary. Former Senator of Virginia (1988–1998); Attorney General of Virginia (1998–2001); Republican Candidate for Governor of Virginia, 2001; President and CEO, Prison Fellowship USA, 2001–2011.