Thursday, October 23, 2008

Not Even a Remote Thought

MVFHR member Bonnita Spikes has this letter published in today's Gazette (a Maryland newspaper):

I read "Panel weighs death penalty" with a heavy heart. I lost my husband, Michael Spikes, to murder in 1994. I was one of several murder victims' family members to testify for repeal of the death penalty at the hearings of the Commission on Capital Punishment. And I joined 48 other Marylanders who are homicide survivors in signing a letter, presented to the commission, that also urged replacing the death penalty with life without parole.

Why is [Baltimore County] State's Attorney [Scott] Shellenberger so intent on keeping a death penalty despite racial disparities and so many other flaws with it here in our state?

I work with homicide survivors, particularly within black communities in Maryland where nearly 80 percent of state murders occur. The notion of a death sentence for their loved one's murderer isn't even a remote thought for these families. They are struggling to hold their low-income households together, to help their families grieve and survive the trauma one day at a time. Most have no insurance and are [in] dire need of support and traumatic grief counseling.

Even Mr. Shellenberger agrees the death penalty costs more than life in prison. Our state's scarce resources should be redirected to help these families.

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