I was able to get a quick report from Kate Lowenstein about the World Coalition Against the Death Penalty's General Assembly, held in San Francisco this past weekend. As a speaker on the Voices of Victims' Families panel, Kate talked about how important it is for abolition organizations around the world to begin right from the start to reach out to victims' families and think about how to incorporate victims' families into their work. Changing cultural assumptions about victims and the death penalty is challenging but so vitally important, Kate told the audience.
Also on the panel were Howard Morton of Families of Homicide Victims and Missing Persons and Judy Kerr of California Crime Victims for Alternatives to the Death Penalty. Both Howard and Judy have done a tremendous amount to raise public awareness about the needs of victims' families in general and of those with unsolved murders in particular.
The World Coalition gathering was a great opportunity to meet in person with colleagues from the U.S., Europe, and Asia, joined by MVFHR Board members Bill Pelke and Bill Babbitt. Bill Babbitt brought his grandson, Andrew Colvin, to volunteer at the event -- his first abolition conference -- and it was a treat to have another member of the Babbitt family join our collective effort to end the death penalty.