Why a Man Who Executed 62 People Is Now Against the Death Penalty

Jerry Givens says a conversation with God changed his mind about the morality of what was once his career. 

Jerry Givens (the Washington Post)

In Monday's Washington Post, read the story of Jerry Givens. He was Virginia's chief executioner for 17 years, at a time when the commonwealth was surpassed only by Texas when it came to putting people to death. "From the 62 lives I took, I learned a lot," Givens said. When carrying out his duties, he'd empty his mind to avoid fear, insecurity and regret, to avoid feeling conflicted.

But that coping mechanism lasted only so long, especially in light of advances in DNA testing that made potential failures in the system even more apparent. "If I execute an innocent person, I'm no better than the people on death row," he told the Post. Plus, there was a conversation with God and a revelation about forgiveness that changed his mind once and for all. Today Givens is lobbying -- and praying -- for an end to executions.

Read more at the Washington Post.

Like The Root on Facebook. Follow us on Twitter.

The Root encourages respectful debate and dialogue in our commenting community. To improve the commenting experience for all our readers we will be experimenting with some new formats over the next few weeks. During this transition period the comments section will be unavailable to users.

We apologize for any inconvenience and appreciate your continued support of The Root.

While we are experimenting, please feel free to leave feedback below about your past experiences commenting at The Root.