Last week, Delane Sims, Death Penalty Outreach Coordinator for the ACLU of Northern California, published a piece in the California Progress Report titled "Why I Oppose the Death Penalty." Here are a couple of excerpts that specifically address the writer's perspective as a victim's family member:
As an African American woman living in Oakland, whose brother was murdered, I strongly oppose the death penalty. More than anything, I want to live in a safe community—a community where my six sons and my daughter are able to pursue all of their dreams without fear of becoming another number in the city homicide count. We live with the consistent threat that - this time - it will be one of them and not a friend or classmate that will become another Oakland victim. While I love my city, this is simply a reality faced by people of color in Oakland each day. I believe a vital step to help end this tide of fear is to end the use of the death penalty.
Why the death penalty? The death penalty is very hurtful to the minority community in Alameda County and the entire state. One reason for this is due to the tremendous cost associated with the death penalty that is draining the county budget. Every death penalty trial costs local counties $1.1 million more than a trial ending in permanent imprisonment. Every person already on death row costs state tax payers hundreds of thousands.
Please don’t surmise that I don’t sympathize with all the families that are victims of murder, being one myself, I certainly care. However, I would not have wanted to relive my brother’s murder over and over again, trial after trial, as happens in death penalty cases. A discovery I made in the wake of my brother's murder is that hating or failing to forgive the perpetrator allows more than one grave to be dug. The stress, pain and hurt that could riddle my body and mind just does not serve me nor honor my brother’s memory. I feel that as long as the perpetrator is permanently locked away, they will serve time in hell here on earth. My heart is with each family that has ever had to face the devastating pain of losing a loved one to a senseless crime.