Thursday, January 28, 2010

Consider the emotional cost

Last week we posted an article about victims testifying for repeal in Kansas. Bill Lucero, whose father was murdered, sent us a copy of his testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee, in which he said:

This session marks the 33rd consecutive year that I have actively lobbied for abolition of capital punishment at the Legislature. You all are familiar with me and my concern that continued application of the death penalty in Kansas will only prolong the suffering of murder victims’ families by re-traumatizing them each time they publically have to re-visit their grief when the case is brought up in the media.

Once again “financial cost” seems to be a driving force behind the abolition effort this session. But I hope you also will consider the emotional cost involved with the death penalty to murder victims’ families, regardless if they favor or oppose capital punishment. The endless years of appeals of capital cases only add stress to families and provide no opportunity for healing.

You have occasionally asked me, “Bill, I see you up here, but are there truly other murder victim families that feel the same way you do?” Last year, you had the opportunity to hear Sue Norton of Arkansas City offer compelling testimony regarding her tragic loss of her parents. Tomorrow you will have the opportunity tomorrow to hear Bud Welch speak about the anguish he suffered following the Oklahoma City bombing in 1995 when he lost his daughter.

Today, I wanted to share with you comments from Kansans who have lost loved ones to murder and have found that the death penalty inadequate and inappropriate as retribution.

Here are a couple of the testimonies from other victims' family members that Bill read:

"When my 28-yr-old daughter Amy was murdered by the father of her 22-month old son, I had to rethink my belief in capital punishment. Some day his son will ask about his birth dad, and I would have to explain everything to him. How could I explain his father was killed because he killed Amy? If I couldn't explain the logic of the death penalty to a child, then it is wrong. I realized I had always looked at the death penalty as one dimensional and not how many persons it affects: the families and communities of both the murdered and murderer, and all of society." -Carol Samuelson

"The murder of my father sadly kept him from knowing the joys that come with age. But the death penalty for those who killed him only perpetuates disregard for human life; it cheapens and brutalizes the society that inflicts it, only reinforcing violence. And those are the very things that underlie the terrible crime committed against my father." - Carolyn Zimmerman

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