Friday, November 11, 2005



Today, after much printing, stamping, cursing, reprinting etc. We are finally sending out the initial mailing for the FUSE (Families United to Stop Executions) program. The FUSE program is designed to empower family members of those on death row to advocate for themselves in the political sphere for an end to the death penalty. All to often, we hear that the death penalty is for the victims' families, but we ignore the fact that the death penalty creates an entire new family of victims. Whenever a loved one is killed, be it by an individual or the state, they leave a family grieving an traumatized. Sadly, our society ignores the grief of family members of the executed, somehow feeling that, since their family members "deserved it" (whatever that means) their grief is somehow less valid, their pain less intense. These families are stigmatized as the families of murderers (who has ever heard the phrase "the apple doesn't fall far from the tree"?) and then are told that they are not allowed to grieve.

FUSE hopes to take some small part in righting this situation. This program, inspired by programs like No Silence No Shame from Murder Victims' Families for Human Rights (MVFHR) will provide a safe space for families to come together, support eachother and speak out. These true victims of the death penalty will be able to move beyond the victimization inflicted on them by society and make their voices heard to their neighbors, the state, and their elected representatives, ending their silence to stop the violence. The initial mailing is going out to death row to ask the inmates to provide contact information for their family members who might be interested. It is an honor for me to be a part of this effort. I believe that these voices are the ones that the people of Tennessee need to hear to understand the truth of capital punishment.
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