Thursday, October 11, 2007

Help us spread the word about families of the executed

We’re always interested to hear about ways that people are making use of our report, Creating More Victims: How Executions Hurt the Families Left Behind. Margaret Vandiver recently told us that she used it in her class on the death penalty at the University of Memphis, for example.

These days, we are especially focused on trying to get the report into the hands of professionals who might be coming into direct contact with family members of people the executed: mental health professionals, child welfare advocates, and educators. Our list of recommendations at the back of the report includes these three:
To educators, we recommend the development of trainings and materials for teachers and school counselors about the impact of the death penalty on children in families of the accused. Such trainings and materials would aim to raise awareness about this issue and better prepare those who encounter children suffering in the aftermath of a family member’s death sentence or execution.

To child welfare advocates, particularly those who are developing services to address the needs of children of incarcerated parents and children who have suffered a violent loss in their family, we recommend that trainings and literature include specific information and guidance about children in families of the executed, whose needs and concerns are in many ways distinct.

To mental health professionals, we recommend that the short- and long-term psychological effects of an execution in the family be included in literature and training directed at social workers, clinical psychologists, trauma specialists, and others who might come in contact with such families. We also recommend that witnessing executions be recognized as a “gateway” criterion for post-traumatic stress disorder.

We are continually on the lookout for leaders in these fields to whom we might send the report, conferences where we might be able to offer a presentation, and other opportunities to carry out this aspect of MVFHR’s No Silence, No Shame project. If you have ideas, thoughts, connections, possibilities, by all means let us know.

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