Tuesday, March 27, 2012

A more useful approach

Today Amnesty International has posted this piece about MVFHR Executive Director Renny Cushing, "Don't let those who kill turn us into murderers":

One warm June evening in 1988, Robert Cushing and his wife Marie were at home watching a basketball game on TV, when they were interrupted by a knock.

As the retired New Hampshire school teacher answered the front door of the house where he and Marie had raised their seven children, two shots rang out, ripping his chest apart.

He died instantly in front of his wife.

Later that night, a police officer broke the news of his father’s murder to then 34-year-old Renny Cushing, who had visited his parents less than an hour before the shooting.

“For me, at that moment, thinking about what you do in the aftermath of murder stopped being an intellectual exercise and became part of my life,” says Renny Cushing, speaking to Amnesty International from the house where his father was murdered. Renny now lives there with his wife and three daughters.

For some, the instinct after losing a loved one to murder might be to want to see the perpetrators executed.

But since his father's death, Renny Cushing has become a leading voice against the death penalty, travelling throughout the USA. and Asia speaking with and on behalf of victims who oppose capital punishment.


As executive director of MVFHR, he often meets families of murder victims who support the death penalty. But he doesn’t think wagging a finger at them to persuade them to become abolitionists is the right approach.

“I can understand other victim-survivors who support the death penalty, but I am never prescriptive to them. I find myself working in the death penalty abolition movement, often knowing that I have much more in common with a family member of a murder victim who supports the death penalty than I do with all my colleagues in the death penalty abolition movement who don’t know what it’s like to bury a relative who has been murdered.”

A more useful approach, he believes, is to provide support and counselling for families of murder victims.

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