As San Quentin warden, Jeanne Woodford oversaw four executions. Last week, she took a new job heading Death Penalty Focus, a group that opposes capital punishment. Guest host Scott Shafer talks to Woodford — who also served as director of California’s Department of Corrections — about her career, her new post and why she sees the death penalty as a failed public policy.

Jeanne Woodford, executive director of Death Penalty Focus, a non-profit anti-death penalty group, former warden of San Quentin State Prison, former director of the California Department of Corrections and senior distinguished fellow at the Chief Justice Earl Warren Institute on Law and Social Policy at UC Berkeley

  • Janet

     Could you please ask Ms. Woodford to talk about Stanley Williams? If anyone was an example that rehabilitation can work, it was Williams. What was the climate/dialogue in her circles regarding the decisions to follow through with his execution?

  • Steve

    Why does it cost three times as much to incarcerate an inmate in California than it does in other states (e.g., Texas).

  • Barbara

     About 12 years ago an inmate, Manuel Babbitt was executed.  Had Grey Davis not been governor, and, most importantly, had he been wealthier the execution would never have occurred.

    I knew a couple of attorneys involved in the appeal. Both believeBabbitt  had post traumatic stress disorder and did not recall the events.  An elderly woman died of a heart attack.  Only trinkets were removed from the house.   Manuel Babbitt lived on the streets. He was schizophrenic. 

    Prior to that a wealthy banker killed a prostitute.  He killed a prostitute acting out a fantasy.  He was given five years imprisonment.

  • Bob in Berkeley

    I used to teach Transcendental Meditation in San Quentin, FOlsom, and Santa Rita, back in the ’80’s. The program was financed by the Calif Dept of Corrections. Studies conducted by the CDC showed a recidivism reduction from 80% to about 20% for those involved in the program. From what I could tell, giving inmates tools to deal with their stress and enrich them internally was a wildly successful and humane approach to keeping ex-cons from returning to prison. It’s a shame that program officially ended because the CDC stopped funding it. Any comments? 

  • Dorothy

     Please comment on the difference of cost to the state and counties related to the death penalty cases vs. life without parole.  Can we save money by abolishing the death penalty?

  • Dave_Mcc

    What are the roadblocks in the system to ending capital punishment? Where are the “pressure points” that we can use to overcome them? 

Sponsored by

Become a KQED sponsor