Three organizations whose memberships include family members of murder victims recently issued a joint statement in conjunction with National Crime Victims' Rights Week, which takes place April 22 - 28, 2007. The statement, issued by the leaders of Murder Victims' Families for Human Rights, Murder Victims' Families for Reconciliation, and Journey of Hope, called for governmental policies that serve the true needs of family members. The groups called for an end to the death penalty, noting that alternatives to capital punishment "provide the certainty and punishment that many families need while keeping our communities safe."
Their statement read:
April 22 – 28, 2007 is National Crime Victims’ Rights Week. The theme for this year is “Victims’ Rights: Every Victim, Every Time.” As victims, and survivors, we strongly support efforts to ensure that the needs of victims’ don’t fall through the cracks or fall prey to politics.
The death penalty does not serve victims’ families. It draws resources away from needed support programs, law enforcement and crime prevention. And the trials and appeals endlessly re-open wounds as they are beginning to heal, and it only creates more families who lose loved ones to killing.
Alternatives to the death penalty provide the certainty and punishment that many families need while keeping our communities safe. Critically, alternatives ensure attention is cast where it is needed most – on the survivors – and not on sensational trials or suspects.
As murder victim family members we also share the same concerns as other Americans with the death penalty. We are concerned about innocent people being sentenced to death, about racial and economic disparities and about arbitrariness. But for us the stakes are higher because an innocent person might be executed in a misguided attempt to give us justice. Losing one innocent life to murder is one too many, the taking of another innocent life because of the first is beyond comprehension.
Those who argue for the death penalty often claim to do so on behalf of us, the victims’ families. They say it will give us “closure.” We don’t want the death penalty, and closure is a myth. Every victim, every time needs help, understanding, resources, and support. We don’t need more killing.
Since 1981, the Justice Department's Office for Victims of Crimes has helped lead communities throughout the country in their observances of National Crime Victims' Rights Week (NCVRW). Rallies, candlelight vigils, and a host of commemorative activities are held each year to promote victims' rights and to honor crime victims and those who advocate on their behalf.
(MVFHR, MVFR, and Journey of Hope Statement, April 19, 2007).
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