“In 2006, my partner was murdered in front of me.” That’s how retired New Hampshire police officer John Breckenridge’s journey began. In the years following his partner’s murder, Breckenridge transformed from a death penalty supporter to a powerful advocate for death penalty abolition. Last Friday, Breckenridge appeared on The Rachel Maddow Show to share his story and discuss the recent death penalty vote in New Hampshire.
“Once I was able to let go of the anger and give it the thought it deserved, I was able to change my opinion,” says Breckenridge of his transformation into a death penalty opponent. “As a Christian I have to respect the dignity and value of human life, and that counts even for people who do horrible things.”
What could encourage death penalty supporters to make a similar ideological shift? “What is an effective argument? What moves people?” Rachel Maddow asked. Breckenridge cited the financial cost of execution, numerous studies that say the death penalty is not a deterrant, and the value of human life. He also highlighted the potential execution of innocent people, an issue that came to his attention after spending time with Kurt Bloodsworth, who was the first American on death row to be exonerated by DNA evidence.
Watch the video to learn more about John Breckenridge’s powerful story, and find out why he is one of the 90 million strong who oppose the death penalty.
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