MVFHR member Marietta Jaeger Lane is being honored this evening as a recipient of the Institute for Peace Studies Jeannette Rankin Peace Award at Rocky Mountain College in Billings, Montana. Marietta has testified against the death penalty in a wide array of venues in several countries. Testifying in favor of a death penalty abolition bill in 2007, Marietta told lawmakers:
While my family and I were camped at the Missouri River Headwaters Park here in Montana 34 years ago, my 7-year-old daughter, Susie, was kidnapped from our tent during the night. Fifteen months later, the FBI identified and arrested a local man responsible for my child’s disappearance and subsequent death.
Though the death penalty was applicable in this case, at my request the County Prosecutor offered the alternative sentence, in capital cases, of mandatory life imprisonment without parole. Only then did the young man admit to the rape, strangulation death, and dismemberment of my child as well as the deaths of a young woman and two young boys in the same area, but at different times. There was evidence that this man had caused more children’s deaths around the state, but the County Prosecutors in those instances were insisting on the death penalty. The young man would only confess to the deaths that occurred in Gallatin County, where he was being offered life imprisonment. Clearly, Montana’s death penalty had no deterrent value in all those deaths, except to deter confession of guilt.
… Concerning the claim of “justice for the victim’s family,” to claim that the execution of any offender will be “just retribution” is to insult the immeasurable and irreplaceable worth of the victim. For the state to kill in retaliation for my daughter’s death is to violate and profane the goodness, sweetness, and beauty of her life.
We congratulate Marietta on being the recipient of the Peace Award today.