An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind.  - Gandhi

Former LA District Attorney Gil Garcetti to speak against death penalty

Gil Garcetti
Gil Garcetti

We are pleased to announce that former Los Angeles County District Attorney Gil Garcetti will be this year’s keynote speaker at the 22nd Annual Membership Meeting and Awards Dinner. The event will be held in Oklahoma City on Saturday, April 20 at the Cathedral of Our Lady of Perpetual Help Conner Center, 3214 N. Lake (1 block west of Western Ave. and 31st St.). A reception will begin at 5:30 p.m. with the dinner following at 6 p.m.

Garcetti’s speech, titled “Turned Off” refers to the slang used when the ladder upon which a condemned man had climbed was kicked out from under him.

Jeanne Woodford, former San Quentin State Prison warden said, “Former Los Angeles District Attorney Gil Garcetti was a tough but fair Prosecutor. His substantial experience with the death penalty has led him to conclude it is time to end this punishment.” Woodford now serves as Executive Director of Death Penalty Focus.

As District Attorney, from 1992 to 2000, Garcetti headed the largest local prosecutorial office in the United States with more than 1100 prosecutors, 200 investigators and support staff of almost 2000. The office annually prosecuted over 280,000 cases and had a budget of approximately $260 million.

“I’ve been gone for nearly 12 years and in those accumulated 44 years, only two people sent to Death Row from an L.A. court have been executed, despite decades of agony for the families of murder victims and hundreds of millions of dollars in costs to taxpayers,” said Garcetti. “I have concluded that the death penalty law should be replaced with life imprisonment without the possibly of parole.”

A world renowned photographer, Garcetti has published 7 photo books and has been featured in numerous exhibitions including The United Nations in New York, UNESCO in Paris, the National Building Museum in Washington, D.C., and the Millennium Museum in Beijing. He is also a Consulting Director for TNT’s two series, The Closer and Major Crimes.

“When serving a life sentence, prisoners can be put in the general population, forced to work, and forced to begin to pay restitution,” said Garcetti. “The biggest death penalty cost usually is associated with the appellate process, but you can’t underestimate the costs for the incarceration on death row.”

In March 2011, Garcetti wrote an op-ed piece in the Los Angeles Times expressing his opposition to the death penalty. “I came out saying this is absolutely crazy and a waste of money,” said Garcetti. “And there’s the issue of possible innocence.”

He was then asked by members of California Proposition 34 to become a spokesperson for the ballot initiative that sought to repeal the death penalty and replace it with life imprisonment without possibility of parole. Also known as Safe California, Prop 34 was narrowly defeated by a vote of 52.8 percent to 47.2 percent.

Garcetti is particularly concerned with the effect death row cases have on families and close friends of the victim.

“To me, those family members and friends also became victims of the crime, “ Garcetti said. “They face years of torment thanks to the incredibly lengthy legal review process required for all cases in which the death penalty is imposed.”

“The hundreds of millions of dollars we throw away on this broken system would be much better spent on helping to solve the unsolved murders, investing in our kids’ schools and by helping the victims families of murder cases to get their lives back together,” said Garcetti.

Lydia Polley, OK-CADP Co-Chair said, “Just look at the disparity in Oklahoma’s annual expenditures for 2011-12: we spent $27,684 per prisoner for maximum security, and only $8,058 per student for public education.”

Garcetti added, “We cannot bring back a murdered loved one, but we can help prevent future similar tragedies by using our very limited financial resources in smarter ways than to finance a law that serves no useful purpose. If you can focus on working to keep kids in school and help them to graduate, you’ll reduce crime generally, and I’m sure you’ll reduce the number of homicides.”

Tickets are $45 for adults, students are $20 and sponsorships are available. Reservation deadline is Friday, April 12.  To purchase tickets, register online at or call 405-948-1645. Checks payable to OK-CADP can be sent to P.O. Box 713, Oklahoma City, OK 73101.