Tuesday, January 10, 2012

We've lived it

Belatedly posting this letter to the editor that was published in the Kentucky State Journal on December 18th. The editorial to which we were responding is here.

To the Editor:

The State Journal’s Dec. 9 editorial, “No room for error,” suggests that “Staunch opponents of capital punishment should imagine members of their own families victimized by barbarous criminals ...”

Many opponents of capital punishment don’t have to imagine the horror of a family member’s murder. We’ve lived it – and we don’t feel that another killing is what will help us. Rather than a “proportionally irreversible response,” we want a response that truly addresses the many different needs victims’ families have and avoids the lasting trauma that executions inflict on the criminal’s innocent family members.

After two shotgun blasts took my father’s life in the doorway of our family home, many people assumed that my family and I would become proponents of the death penalty. A friend said to us, “I hope they fry those people so your family can get some peace.” But in the aftermath of the worst thing that had ever happened to us, my family and I did not feel that an execution would give us peace, and we didn’t want the killer, having taken our father’s life, to take our values too.

I founded the organization Murder Victims’ Families for Human Rights so that victims’ families who oppose the death penalty would be recognized and supported in that belief, and so that we could join with families of people who have been executed to publicize the devastating effects of both murder and the death penalty.

Renny Cushing
Executive Director
Murder Victims’ Families for Human Rights
Boston, Mass.

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