Tuesday, May 16, 2006


News Story in Living Color

A good story, starring our own peerless Executive Director Randy Tatel, appeared on news Channel 4 last night. This story, more than most others really began to address the sound bite crazed back construction of abolitionists vs. victim's advocates. Any public policy is complicated, and when you deal with murder, those complications can seem endless. Yet too often, we're depicted as being "for the inmate" while "the other side" is "for the victim." Of course this isn't the case. One of the main reasons that we oppose the death penalty is that we feel that it is a public policy which fails victims as well as offenders.

As Suzanne Collins' parents stated in an article in the Tennessean recently, family members of murder victims will never have "closure." Their pain will never suddenly end, not with an execution or anything else. Renny Cushing, whose father was murdered, has explained it this way, "healing is a process," he says. "It's not an event." What we need to do, then, is to set up a system that allows for families to begin healing at the earliest possible date. And that means taking death off the table. Because a death sentence brings with it a series of constitutionally mandated appeals, each one providing an opportunity to re-traumatize families. And these appeals are necessary, because it's only during the appellate process that we have found that we've sentenced 124 innocent people to death in America. Without those appeals, all those innocents would have been executed. So let's acknowledge that, while some families (and it is absolutely not all of them) want to take a life for a life, in the long run, this may not be the policy that helps them toward healing in the most efficient manner. We're concerned about victims' families. We're concerned about offenders' families. We're concerned about the costs to us as a people, financial, emotional, and ethical. We're concerned about innocents sentenced to death and about the unfair application of the system. It's because of all of these concerns that we oppose the use of capital punishment.

You can view the news story here:
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