Monday, January 18, 2010

Home Again

Congratulations to the National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty for putting on another great conference with workshops and panels to interest the many new attendees and the long-time abolitionists too.

Victims' family members were in attendance from all around the country, and we were able to meet and get to know one another at a Friday evening gathering that MVFHR co-sponsored with Murder Victims' Families for Reconciliation. Our thanks to MVFR's director, Beth Wood, for imagining and planning this valuable event.

MVFHR Board Chair Vicki Schieber managed to fit in eight public speaking events to Louisville-area school and church groups in the days just before the conference; Kentucky Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty director Pat Delahanty had made a point of arranging these events when he knew that Vicki would be coming to town.

Fellow MVFHR board members Marie Verzulli and Bud Welch also spoke at the conference -- Marie as part of a workshop on how victims' family members are essential to state repeal efforts and Bud as one of the "voices of experience" that opened each plenary session -- and Bill Pelke was at the conference representing the Journey of Hope, which traveled to several venues in Kentucky earlier last year. Executive Director Renny Cushing spoke as part of a workshop on the victims' movement and on a panel titled "Innovative and Effective Responses to Crime and Violence." Renny was joined on that panel by Susan Herman, whose concept of "parallel justice" we featured in the most recent issue of our newsletter, and Howard Zehr, whose work in the area of restorative justice is widely known. I'll post excerpts from that panel later this week, so check back soon. Meanwhile, thanks again to all who make it possible each year for death penalty abolitionists to get together in person and renew our commitment to our shared goals.

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