The following op-ed by ACLU-WV Criminal Law Reform Campaign Director Greg Whittington appeared in the Charleston Gazette-Mail:
In the years since my release from state prison, I have managed and owned businesses, created dozens of good-paying West Virginia jobs, become an advocate, a grandfather and more. That might have been impossible if West Virginia hadn’t wisely banned the death penalty.
We’re in the second week of the 2021 legislative session and already two bills have been introduced to reinstate this cruel, racist relic. I hope my story shows just how dangerous and wrongheaded these proposals are.
I was sentenced in 1995 on a capital murder charge. At the time, I lived in public housing, was in and out of jail and I was using heroin. There were high-profile calls in local news media to have me executed for my crime, despite the abolition of the death penalty in West Virginia in 1965.
At the time, I was held up as proof that the death penalty was right. I’m holding myself up now as proof that it is wrong.