Gerald Galloway worked for more than 30 years in law enforcement, spending several years as chief of police in Southern Pines.
In spite of encountering some of the hardest of criminals, he’s joining other current and former law enforcement officials to voice concern about the fairness and effectiveness of the death penalty.
Galloway says he doesn’t have a problem determining that someone deserves a death sentence for a heinous crime, but has seen in his career how condemning someone to death doesn’t always result in justice.
“When you look at it anecdotally, it looks as if it’s a sentence that makes sense,” he states. “But if you look at it in a broader perspective in its actual implementation and what it actually delivers, it is about as dysfunctional a sentence as you can give.”
Among the reasons Galloway and his fellow officers are concerned about the death penalty, he points out it’s very costly to taxpayers because of multiple trials and hearings, and he’s seen that sometimes people put on death row are later determined to be innocent.
Supporters of the death penalty say it’s still needed for the most serious of crimes.
North Carolina’s murder rate has been on a steady decline in recent years. At the same time, there hasn’t been an execution in the state since 2006.
Galloway says one of the biggest factors in his position is the fact that death sentences often are never carried out, leaving family members without closure for years beyond the actual crime.
“Most folks who are put on death row will never be put to death, because of the processes it takes for government to actually kill somebody,” he explains. “We don’t deliver justice to surviving families of victims who wait for years and years and years for something that they’ve been promised that never occurs.”
According to the North Carolina Department of Public Safety, there are 152 people on death row, some of them with convictions dating back to the 1980s.