Colleen Cunningham of Missourians to Abolish the Death Penalty writes with a report from a training on victims' issues that the group held this past Saturday:
The meeting was incredible! I say this not as a bragging organizer, but as a witness to the amazing stories and passion shared Saturday. Present were 8 Missouri victims' family members (4 couplings), as well as Jamie Gehrke, a seminary student doing a project on victims' survivors and how the church supports them, MVFHR board member Jeanne Bishop, Equal Justice USA organizer Eunice Timoney-Ravenna, MADP's chair and our host Rita Linhardt, and myself.
Everyone there shared their stories. How their loved one was murdered, what experience they had within their communities and within the social justice system, and how the experience affected their thoughts about the death penalty. One woman present, Linda, lost her brother to murder and also now has a son on death row. The outpouring of support for Linda from the other family members was incredible. I think it was a profound experience for all involved to be able to confront the similarities between their situations and continue to empathize with the families of perpetrators.
The day ended with everyone affirming that they were interested in continuing on with a support group in Missouri that would help murder victims' family members and family members of those executed and on death row. I have everyone's permission to follow up with them to begin continue working toward the creation of this group.
Thank you all very much for your support. I would have been lost without all of your guidance and encouragement. And a special thanks to Jeanne Bishop who led the day with amazing grace.