Sheriff speaks out against death penalty, may run for state House seat

John Rutherford hopes to transition from a law enforcer to a lawmaker

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – In a few months, Sheriff John Rutherford will leave office after 12 years as sheriff and retire after 41 years with the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office.

He sat down with News4Jax to reflect on his years as the city's leading crime fighter and what's in store for the next chapter of his life.

His proudest accomplishment?

"First and foremost, in 2011, when Jacksonville have the lowest crime numbers that we had since 1971, and the lowest murder numbers going back to 1971," Rutherford said.

He also said what he called "this culture of death" has changed his faith -- he became a Catholic about the time he became sheriff -- and his views on many issues have changed over the years. 

"I think the first degradation of the sanctity of life began with Roe v. Wade," Rutherford said. "It goes on, and you see the movies, the games the kids play. The video games, the violence in those games, all of that contributes to what I call a culture of death.

"And I believe in the sanctity of life. Whether you kill a baby in the womb or you kill a baby... neither one of those respects the sanctity of life, and that has been an issue with me for a long time. And that changed my position on the death penalty, because every saint has a past and every sinner has a future."

Rutherford said he is not finished with public service and may transition from a law enforcer to a lawmaker.

Rutherford said he may run for a seat in the state Legislature in 2016. He is targeting House District 12, representing East Arlington and the Southside, a seat currently held by Lake Ray.

About the Author:

Jim Piggott is the reporter to count on when it comes to city government and how it will affect the community.