Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Let's focus on victims' families

I just came across this letter by Jane Lemeland in the December 2nd edition of the Concord (NH) Monitor:

Let's focus on victims' families
After witnessing the meetings of the study commission on the death penalty in New Hampshire, I'm convinced that we should shift our focus from seeking revenge on perpetrators to providing for the needs of victims' families.

We spend a fortune seeking death penalty convictions while offering minimal support to victims' family members.

Most family members who spoke said they did not want the murderer put to death. We heard repeatedly that the death penalty retards closure and healing for those left behind, while expensive appeals drag on for decades. Several family members felt that the death penalty took away their opportunity to forgive, which they saw as necessary for healing.

How much better it would be if we offered these families adequate psychological support, retraining for wives, and financial help with college education for children.

Life in prison without parole, the alternative to the death penalty, is a moral and more humane sentence. Yet it requires the perpetrator to live with the consequences of his actions rather than allowing an early exit. It's time that we repeal the death penalty in New Hampshire and instead use our resources to take better care of victims' family members.

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