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.