Wednesday, April 07, 2010


Moving Story about Sisters' Reponse to Murder

In today's Chicago Tribune, you can read a powerful story of the love among sisters who have suffered a great deal of tragedy. The article tells the story of two sisters struggling to deal with the brutal murder of their pregnant sister, Nancy Bishop Langert, and her husband, Richard, 20 years ago by a teen-aged intruder.

Nancy's two sisters, Jennifer Bishop Jenkins, and Jeanne Bishop, have dedicated their lives to honoring their sister's life through their work to reduce violence, including work to abolish the death penalty and enact tougher gun control laws. The sisters also co-founded the National Organization of Victims of Juvenile Lifers, which has lobbied against parole-granting efforts for juvenile offenders with life sentences, the sentence that their sister and brother-in-law's killer received.

This is a powerful story of hope, in the face of great tragedy. We all have much to learn from the witness of this family.

Read the story here.
Comments :
This is postworthy--let's see if you guys will comment on it:
Hi Anonymous.

I am happy to post a comment about this story. We are very clear here in our organization to say that the 139 people to whom you are referring were released from death row "when evidence of their wrongful conviction or innocence emerged." We do not claim that these individuals are all factually innocent as we don't know that to be true, just as you don't know that they are guilty. Our only way of getting any sort of answers is for guilt to be proven in a court of law. How does one prove innocence? That is not the standard in our courts but instead not guilty or guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. Having said that, what I do know is the system has been and continues to be flawed--defendants unable to afford adequate and competent attorneys, racial bias, defendants with serious mental illnes, withheld evidence, faulty eyewitness testimony, etc. These realities are all documented. Unless you believe that there is a perfect system, institution, or human being out there (which I do not regardless of how well-intentioned) then the bottom line is that mistakes have been and will continue to be made. Take the case of Cameron Todd Willingham in Texas who was executed for an arson fire that killed his kids, and now all the experts and all the evidence point to his innocence. Ray Krone is another example of an innocent man who spent years on death row and in prison for a crime he didn't commit. Only because a lab tech (on her own) ran the DNA on the victim's clothes through the national database was the real murderer identified. Still, even with DNA, my understanding is that only 17 of the 139 individuals who are on the DPIC list had DNA in their cases. And frankly, even if only one innocent person has been or might be executed because of this flawed system, that is one too many, particularly when we have alternatives like life without parole that hold offenders accountable, protect society, are more cost effective, and at the end of the day, don't risk making us killers too. Thank you for your comment.
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