Monday, August 11, 2008

On the Maryland Commission

Saturday's Frederick (Maryland) News-Post has an article titled "Maryland and the death penalty: Two county residents will help decide the fate of capital punishment in the state" that features MVFHR Board Chair VIcki Schieber. From the article:

She is the parent of a murder victim and he is a former prosecutor, but neither believe capital punishment is the best solution to crime. Vicki Schieber, of New Market, and Matt Campbell, of Braddock Heights, are two Frederick County residents serving on a state panel tasked with examining the future of capital punishment in Maryland.

Schieber and Campbell are attending weekly hearings in Annapolis as members of the 23-member Maryland Commission on Capital Punishment. They were appointed by Democratic Gov. Martin O'Malley because of their activism on the issue.

Though both residents are opposed to capital punishment, the commission is composed of people with a mix of different viewpoints and backgrounds. It includes family members of victims, clergy members and even a man once on death row who has since been exonerated.

The commission will write a report on the death penalty, due to state lawmakers by December.


Schieber began speaking out against the death penalty after her daughter was raped and murdered in 1998 while attending graduate school at the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania.

It took police about four years to catch her daughter's killer, and in the meantime Schieber started talking with families of victims in which the death penalty was involved.

She said the long sentencing and appeals process re-victimized those families by dragging out their pain and anger.

"I was very angry at first too, that is a natural process," Schieber said. "You have to work through that in order to have the strength to go on and do good things."

After her daughter's murderer was caught, the Schiebers asked the district attorney not to seek the death penalty.

He was sentenced to life without parole in just five weeks, instead of years of trials, appeals and waiting.

"He's going to pay the price the rest of his life, and we don't want him to ever be out and hurt another family, but now we can go on with our lives," she said.

She believes the death penalty system is flawed and hurts the families of victims.

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