Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Helping Victims Be Heard

Today's Delaware Cape Gazette has this story about victim's family member Kim Book:

Tragedy leads to Victims’ Voices Heard
By Henry J. Evans Jr.

Kim Book has a heart made of steel and silk. A heart strong enough to take the cruelest of blows and yet soft enough to be resilient through the pain.

Throughout the past seven years, Book has facilitated meetings between 18 victims and the criminal offenders who hurt them. In cases involving murder, the victims are surviving loved ones.

That’s what Book became after her daughter, Nicole Mosley, was murdered 15 years ago in Dover.

“She was 17 years old. A 16-year-old young man named Levon Walker, who she knew, came to her father’s house. They began arguing, and he picked up a butcher’s knife from the kitchen counter and stabbed her death,” said Book, 52.

Book’s idea about developing programs to bring victims and offenders together didn’t happen instantly after her daughter’s murder.

She said the Attorney General’s Office sought the death penalty for Walker. “I don’t believe in the death penalty and I told them that. They still tried the case that way,” said Book, who grew up on the Eastern Shore, daughter of a Methodist minister.

Today she divides her time between her homes in Lewes and Camden.

Book said Walker received a 38-year sentence for second-degree murder, and about four months ago, for administrative reasons, he was transferred to a prison in New Jersey.

She said she’s never met with Walker, and after 15 years, “He still hasn’t taken responsibility for what he’s done.”

“The day of his sentencing I realized I had forgiven him, and I wanted to move forward with my life. I wanted to do something to help other victims who were not being heard. I had been through the criminal justice system, and it had not provided me with what I needed,” she said.

Book said she felt as though she had no role in the process but had deserved one. As a result, she developed an interest in restorative justice.

“Restorative justice gives victims an opportunity to have some say in what happens to the offender. It also holds the offender accountable in a way that helps them see what they’ve done,” she said.

Read the rest.

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