Monday, June 10, 2013

Lightening the Load

In our Spring/Summer newsletter, we wrote about MVFHR's participation in a workshop, sponsored by the Quaker United Nations Office (QUNO), on children of parents sentenced to death or executed. Now as an outgrowth of that workshop QUNO has published a report titled "Lightening the Load of the Parental Death Sentence on Children." You'll see references to MVFHR's work in that report, as well as, of course, a great deal of important analysis and recommendation.

You can download the report at QUNO's website. Just scroll down to "Recent QUNO Resources."

QUNO will be releasing this report in Madrid this week at the 5th World Congress Against the Death Penalty, a tremendous gathering of people from all over the world. Some of us from MVFHR will be there and we look forward to seeing our colleagues who will also be participating and also to meeting many new allies and friends.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Walk for Peace

MVFHR was represented today at the annual Mother's Day Walk for Peace that the Louis D. Brown Peace Institute has organized for 17 years.  The LDB Peace Institute provides crucial support to families of homicide victims in the greater Boston area. Take a look at founder Tina Chery's page in MVFHR's Gallery of Victims' Stories. 

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Honoring Susan Herman

Susan Herman, author of the book Parallel Justice for Victims of Crime and long-time friend of MVFHR, was just honored with the National Crime Victims Service Award from the Department of Justice. Here is the department's press release, and here is the short video that was used at the awards ceremony to introduce Susan's work.

We interviewed Susan Herman for MVFHR's newsletter in 2009, and that interview is still available here, on page 4. Susan gets right to the heart of things with this question (from that interview), "While victims absolutely deserve a good and respectful experience within the criminal justice system, I think we need to go beyond that to ask, 'What do victims need, how can we as a society acknowledge that what happened to them was wrong, and how can we help them?'"

Friday, April 19, 2013

Spring newsletter is out!

We've just posted our Spring/Summer newsletter, with features on the United Nations Human Rights Council's consideration of children of parents sentenced to death or executed, an interview with Marilyn Armour about her recent research on victims and the ultimate penal sanction, Vicki Schieber's reflections on working for repeal in Maryland, and another powerful story about the impact of murder and mental illness within a family.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

The impact on victims' families

Some of us from MVFHR were in Milwaukee this past weekend, at Marquette University Law School's conference on “The Death Penalty Versus Life Without Parole: Comparing the Healing Impact on Victims’ Families and the Community."  Here, you can view Dr. Marilyn Armour's keynote address about her recent study about the impact of the penal sanctions life without parole and the death penalty on family members of murder victims, and here you can view the other conference panels. The panels with victims' family members are at the beginning.

Watch for our interview with Dr. Marilyn Armour in the spring issue of MVFHR's newsletter.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Hopeful and scared

More from Maryland! Last week's Washington Post headline was "Murder victim's mother continues push for repeal of Maryland's death penalty":

Schieber has made a similar pitch dozens of times over the past decade in Annapolis, as part of a cadre of activists pushing unsuccessfully for repeal of the state’s death penalty. On Thursday, she will be back once more, offering testimony to a pair of legislative panels.

... “I’m both hopeful and scared,” Schieber said in an interview this week when asked about what could happen in the coming weeks, as lawmakers start voting on the legislation.
Schieber has been effective over the years because she is not what lawmakers might expect from the family member of a murder victim, said Sen. Brian E. Frosh (D-Montgomery), who chairs the Senate committee that has jurisdiction over the legislation.
“When people meet Vicki, they meet a woman where the worst possible thing happened — she lost a child,” said Jane Henderson, the executive director of Maryland Citizens Against State Executions. “While Vicki would never say she speaks for all victims’ families, she makes a compelling case that goes to the heart of the matter.”

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Fighting for Their Lives

From MVFHR Project Director and Staff Writer Susannah Sheffer:

I'm delighted to announce the publication of my book Fighting for Their Lives: Inside the Experience of Capital Defense Attorneys. The book is about the emotional experience of lawyers who work at the end stage of capital defense and have lost clients to execution. 

Law Professor Susan Bandes gives a glimpse of the book with this description: "This is a book I could have wished into existence. It offers a rare look at the emotionally rich questions surrounding capital defense lawyering, and its conversational format opens up a vein of insight that even memoir would not. Fascinating and entirely engaging!" 

And Publishers Weekly says, "Sheffer takes readers beyond the courtroom and execution chambers to explore how capital defense attorneys cope when they can’t save a client. ... The book is unexpectedly moving, as when an inmate consoles an attorney who has run out of options, and the author is especially adept at uncovering the ethical and professional nuances of these cases. ...  sobering and intimate ..."

The book is about law and the death penalty, but it's also about hope, failure, dignity, and all sorts of other matters that we might call psychological or just human questions. 

I'm grateful to all who might take an interest in the book and help to spread the word about it. If you're moved to order a copy, you can do that through your local bookstore or through any of the usual channels.  More information is here.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Speaking Out in Maryland

The Eldersburg Patch has this news video of supporters of repeal speaking in front of the Maryland State Capitol in Annapolis. MVFHR member Vicki Schieber talks about the murder of her daughter Shannon and why she opposes the death penalty.