She once facilitated executions — and will now be working to stop them.
From the Los Angeles Times:
As the clock ticked past midnight and the death chamber phone refused to ring, San Quentin State Prison Warden Jeanne Woodford would calmly signal the executioners to inject a lethal dose of chemicals into the condemned man’s veins.
Reared in a Roman Catholic family, she grew up believing that only God had the right to take a life. But four times in her 30-year career in California corrections, the soft-spoken mother of five carried out executions of notorious killers, remorseful and unrepentant alike.
Woodford resigned as director of the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation four years ago, dismayed over state authorities’ clinging to policies such as the death penalty that she had concluded are wasteful, discriminatory and fail to make the public safer. Now, as the state tries to restart the execution machinery after a five-year legal hiatus, Woodford has crossed to the other side of the contentious debate over capital punishment.
On Thursday, the abolitionist nonprofit Death Penalty Focus will announce Woodford’s appointment as executive director, a new role that will see her standing on the other side of the walls of San Quentin should any of the 713 death row inmates meet his or her end at the hands of the state.
“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.”