Civil Liberties  
comments_image Comments

I Was Virginia's Executioner—Here's What I Learned

I was responsible for putting 62 inmates to death in Virginia and it taught me a lot about our legal system.

Continued from previous page


I guess I had a reputation in the prison system. I would put my life on the line for a lot of inmates and people. I would go in and fight guys with my bare hands to try to stop the violence. I did my job. I saw it as saving the lives of people, stopping violence. One day I was saving people. Then I was taking lives. I had to transform myself into someone who could go and take the life of another person. It's not an easy task to do. 

When I accepted the job, I never told my wife or kids or anybody. I didn't want them to go through anything I had to go through. If I told someone, they would tell someone. It would have been like a snowball and gotten bigger and bigger and everyone would know exactly what I was doing.

5. What was your annual salary when working in the Virginia prison system? Were you paid extra to perform executions?

We got roughly $39,000 to $50,000. It depended what pay grade you were at as a correctional officer. When I resigned, it was closer to $50,000. We got benefits, but I did not get any extra pay as the executioner. Sometimes, I think if I hadn't been selected to be the executioner, then I think that I would have worked my 27 years without any problems and settled for my retirement. But when I was forced to resign, it took away everything. I lost my pension.

If I had known what I had to go through as an executioner, I wouldn't have done it. You can't tell me I can take the life of people and go home and be normal.

6. What's the biggest mistake you've ever made while working?

Biggest mistake I ever made was taking the job as an executioner. Life is short. Life only consists of 24 hours a day. Death is going to come to us. We don't have to kill one another.