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If you've lost a loved one to murder:

If you need services or counseling in the aftermath of murder:

Our work to end the death penalty has led us to hundreds of families of murder victims. We have learned from them that services for surviving families are sorely lacking. So much energy is spent chasing a few executions, while the needs of the families left behind are largely ignored.

That is why we believe repeal of the death penalty and increasing services for surviving families must go hand in hand. In many of the states where we have won repeal, we are still working to meet this second goal.

As a surviving family member, your voice is so important in the death penalty debate – no matter how you feel. If you want to get involved, or just engage in a dialog, please sign on to our victims’ families network, or read on to learn more.

What other families are saying:

Read quotes from murder victims’ family members

Select statements by victims’ families:

Learn about the death penalty’s impact on victims’ families:

The death penalty’s impact on victims’ families
Answers to tough questions related to victims’ families

What you can do:

 

Issue quote: Rachel Garcia, on Cost - The Albuquerque Tribune, March 15, 2005

I no longer want the men accused of killing my husband executed... I would rather see the death penalty abolished and reparations made to the victims' wives or husbands and to their children. I know how hard it is to go looking for a job, because my job was staying at home and taking care of the home and kids, and my husband was the breadwinner. I have faced that situation, and, believe you me, it's not easy.

— Rachel Garcia, whose husband was killed in the line of duty

Issue quote: Rachel Garcia, on Cost - The Albuquerque Tribune, March 15, 2005

I no longer want the men accused of killing my husband executed... I would rather see the death penalty abolished and reparations made to the victims' wives or husbands and to their children. I know how hard it is to go looking for a job, because my job was staying at home and taking care of the home and kids, and my husband was the breadwinner. I have faced that situation, and, believe you me, it's not easy.

— Rachel Garcia, whose husband was killed in the line of duty

Issue quote: Henrietta Beckman, on Victims - VOICES: Connecticut Murder Victims’ Families Speak out Against the Death Penalty

The money that we spend on the death penalty would be much better spent funding support groups, providing ongoing counseling to survivors, ensuring that every person who is murdered is able to be buried with dignity, and doing everything we can to prevent the tragedy of murder from ever taking place.

— Henrietta Beckman, whose son, Randy, was murdered in 2003

Issue quote: Victoria Coward - CT News Junky, May 13, 2011

[The] death penalty is given in fewer than 1 percent of cases, yet it sucks up millions and millions of dollars that could be put toward crime prevention or victims’ services. What I wouldn’t give for a tiny slice of those millions to give my grieving daughters some professional help to process the death of their brother.

— Victoria Coward, whose son, Tyler, was murdered in 2007

Issue quote: Arlis Keller - Colorado Repeal Hearing, March 14, 2013

If my brother's wife is sentenced to death for her actions, we will have to face years, perhaps decades, of mandatory appeals.

— Arlis Keller, testified in CO repeal hearing in 2013

Issue quote: Kathy Garcia, on Victims - Testimony before the Maryland Senate Judicial Proceedings committee. March 6, 2008

While well-intentioned people defend capital punishment "for the victims," surviving family members are left to grieve in silence, without access to ongoing services, peer support, or affordable, specialized counseling. Grassroots organizations around the country have sprung up to meet this need, but most of us struggle on a daily basis to remain in existence.

— Kathy Garcia, trauma expert, victims' advocate, and aunt of a murder victim

Issue quote: Joanna Barlieb, on Victims - Testimony before the New Jersey Death Penalty Study Commission. September 13, 2006

I can testify from experience that our current system is most unjust for the victims and their loved ones. I can only hope to save other families from the grief of the never-ending appellate process. I promote the substitution of the death penalty only with a life sentence that truly means life in prison with no possibility of parole.

— Joanne Barlieb, whose mother, Cynthia, was murdered

Issue quote: Judy Kerr, on Cost - California Progress Report, April 15, 2010

It is now nearly seven years since my brother Bob's murder. His killer is still walking the streets. My message and voice are focused on dispelling the delusion that the death penalty keeps us safe. We are wasting millions each year sentencing a few aging convicts to death while thousands more murders each year remain unsolved and tens of thousands of family members like me are left with little hope for any justice.

Issue quote: Bonnita Spikes, on Cost - Testimony, February 21, 2007

From my personal experience struggling for good mental health care for my son, I believe family survivors of murder victims would be much better served if the resources wasted on the death penalty were used to provide quality mental health care for the victims and survivors of violence.

— Bonnita Spikes, whose husband was murdered, and who works with other homicide survivors in Baltimore

Issue quote: Laura Bonk, on Victims - Testimony in New Hampshire, August 12, 2010

If my mother were alive, she would be proud that I came forward today. My mother always told me that my job is to make this world a better place to live. New Hampshire would be a better place without the death penalty.

— Laura Bonk, whose mother was murdered in 1989.

Issue quote: Kathy Garcia, on Victims - Testimony before the Maryland Senate Judicial Proceedings committee. March 6, 2008

The capital punishment system may have been put in place to serve us survivors, but it actually has been a colossal failure.

— Kathy Garcia, trauma expert and aunt of a murder victim, who used to support the death penalty

Issue quote: Carmen Rodriguez - VOICES: Connecticut Murder Victims’ Families Speak out Against the Death Penalty

For me and so many other victims’ family members, the death penalty never is the focus of our attention because we face too many other pressing concerns in the aftermath of a loved ones murder.

— Carment Rodriguez, whose son, Carlos, was murdered in 2002

Issue quote: Martin Luther King III - Republican-American, April 23, 2012

You may know that my father was gunned down by an assassin's bullet in 1968. My grandmother was gunned down in 1974 by another person. Certainly, I should be one to support the death penatly, but our family has always been against the death penalty.

— Martin Luther King III, son of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Issue quote: Vicki & Carolyn Schieber & Leming, on Innocence - Gazette of Politics and Business, February 16, 2008

Some say there are solutions to the prolonged suffering of murder victims' family members when it comes to the death penalty – fewer appeals, less scrutiny, a cheaper system. But a shorter and cheaper system means more mistakes, more people like Ray caught in the system or even worse, executed quickly – before they can prove their innocence.

— Vicki Schieber, whose daughter Shannon was murdered, and Carolyn Leming, whose son Ray Krone was sentenced to death for a crime he did not commit

Issue quote: Judy Kerr, on Cost - California Progress Report, April 15, 2010

It is now nearly seven years since my brother Bob's murder. His killer is still walking the streets. My message and voice are focused on dispelling the delusion that the death penalty keeps us safe. We are wasting millions each year sentencing a few aging convicts to death while thousands more murders each year remain unsolved and tens of thousands of family members like me are left with little hope for any justice.

Issue quote: Pamela Joiner - VOICES: Connecticut Murder Victims’ Families Speak out Against the Death Penalty

While so many families like mine are kept in limbo without any justice in our case, we talk about investing more money in the death penalty for just a few cases...the death penalty is a charade. I want the money spent on the death penalty to go toward investigating my son’s murder. I want those resources to go to crime prevention, so that no more mothers lose their children.

— Pamela Joiner, whose son, Jumar, was murdered in 2008, in a case that is still unsolved

Issue quote: Khalilah Brown-Dean - WTNH, February 29th 2012

The death penalty is not given out equally. It’s about saying certain cases are more important than others, certain crimes are more heinous than others...and for families it’s a real slap in our face.

— Khalilah Brown-Dean, whose cousin was murdered

Issue quote: Laura Bonk, on Victims - Testimony in New Hampshire, August 12, 2010

If my mother were alive, she would be proud that I came forward today. My mother always told me that my job is to make this world a better place to live. New Hampshire would be a better place without the death penalty.

— Laura Bonk, whose mother was murdered in 1989.

Issue quote: Deldelp Medina - Mercury News, August 24, 2010

My Tía's killer was her own son -- my cousin. He was in the midst of a psychotic break....Cutting funding to treat mental illness while paying for the death penalty is simply insane.

— Deldelp Medina, whose aunt was murdered by another family member

Issue quote: Vivian Penda - Baltimore Sun, November 17 2011

[On TV] there's so much attention paid to certain murders that you assume the families going through their tragedy are getting support and help. [When] my son, Dennis, was murdered in 2002, and I learned how little support there actually is...Many survivors face trouble just getting out of bed, much less figuring out where to find and fight for grief counseling and other needed services.

— Vivian Penda, whose son, Dennis, was murdered in 2002

Issue quote: Kathleen Parker - Topeka Capital-Journal, September 26, 2011

For justice to have any meaning, it must also mean that no innocent person should ever be executed...

— Kathleen Parker, conservative columnist who lost several family members to murder

Issue quote: Richard Brown, on Cost - Southeast Queens Press, December 27, 2003

[T]he commitment of time, money and man power necessary for a capital case is enormous and it takes from other cases. But I think what bothers me most is that it offers to the families of the victims and the survivors a false sense of closure.

— Richard Brown, District Attorney, Queens, NY

Issue quote: Lieutenant Hollis - Colorado Repeal Hearing, March 14, 2013

We’ve spent tens of millions of dollars on the death penalty in the last decades. And what has that gotten us; one execution. Meanwhile, we’ve had thousands of victims’ families struggling to put their lives together.

— Lieutenant Hollis, testified in CO repeal hearing in 2013

Issue quote: Victoria Coward, on Victims - CT New Junky, May 13, 2011

There is a way forward that can help all victims. We can decide to stop spending so much money, time, and attention on a handful of capital cases and instead commit to focusing on real solutions to violence prevention and real services that all victims of homicide can benefit from.

— Victoria Coward, whose son, Tyler, was murdered in 2007

Issue quote: Bob Autobee - Bob Autobee, Pueblo Chieftain

As a victim’s father who has been trapped in the labyrinth of the death penalty, and after seeing the real misuse of resources, I am begging our elected officials to do away with our broken death penalty system.

— Bob Autobee, a corrections officer, whose son Eric, also a corrections officer, was murdered by a prison inmate

Issue quote: Victoria Coward - CT News Junky, May 13, 2011

[The] death penalty is given in fewer than 1 percent of cases, yet it sucks up millions and millions of dollars that could be put toward crime prevention or victims’ services. What I wouldn’t give for a tiny slice of those millions to give my grieving daughters some professional help to process the death of their brother.

— Victoria Coward, whose son, Tyler, was murdered in 2007

Issue quote: Kate Lowenstein, on Victims - Testimony, December 15, 2004

The death penalty creates a hierarchy of victims. Whose murder is considered so bad that it is one of the chosen few to get the resources to solve it and sentence the killer to death? ...We all know that the agony of having a family member murdered is equal in all of us, no matter what color we are, how much money we have or where we live. Murder levels us all equally with its pain.

— Kate Lowenstein, whose father, Congressman Allard Lowenstein, was murdered

Issue quote: Cathy Ansheles - "Not in Our Name, New Mexico"

The death penalty simply puts families in a state of suspended animation, almost never delivering on the promise of healing while always holding out the false promise of "closure".

— Cathy Ansheles, niece of murder victim Grace Ansheles

Issue quote: Gail Rice, on Victims - Testimony before New Hampshire State Legislature, April 8, 2010

[The death penalty means victims’ families are] putting their lives on hold for years, sometimes decades, as they attend new hearings and appeals and relive the murder.

— Gail Rice, whose brother Bruce VanderJagt, a Denver policeman, was murdered in 1997

Issue quote: Vicki & Carolyn Schieber & Leming, on Innocence - Gazette of Politics and Business, February 16, 2008

Some say there are solutions to the prolonged suffering of murder victims' family members when it comes to the death penalty – fewer appeals, less scrutiny, a cheaper system. But a shorter and cheaper system means more mistakes, more people like Ray caught in the system or even worse, executed quickly – before they can prove their innocence.

— Vicki Schieber, whose daughter Shannon was murdered, and Carolyn Leming, whose son Ray Krone was sentenced to death for a crime he did not commit

Issue quote: Gail Rice - Southtown Star, October 17th, 2010

From the very beginning, the death penalty makes false claims about how it "helps" victims. We are told that we need the death penalty for "closure" and "justice." But in reality, fewer than 2 percent of all cases end up with death verdicts, so it's simply wrong to act as if the healing process for families must be tied to an execution. Do we really believe there's no justice for the other 98 percent?

— Gail Rice, whose brother, a Denver policeman, was murdered in 1997

Issue quote: Neely Goen, on Cost - The Wichita Eagle, February 6, 2013

At one time I believed that the death penalty would benefit people like my mother and me, but in reality nothing could be further from the truth.

— Neely Goen, daughter of victim

Issue quote: Babette Miller - Colorado Repeal Hearing, March 14, 2013

Instead of investing millions in a death penalty case that strings along victims’ for years we should invest that money in services that will help all victims.

— Babette Miller, testified in CO repeal hearing in 2013

Issue quote: Edward DeFazio, on Victims - Edward DeFazio, "It's time to end the death penalty," The Bergen Record. November 18,

It is a hoax on the families of murder victims, on the public at large and on myself as a prosecutor in this state. It is a punishment that does not deliver the justice it promises, prolongs the suffering of those who have lost a loved one and does nothing to actually enhance public safety.

— Edward DeFazio, New Jersey prosecutor who changed his mind about the death penalty after serving on the New Jersey Death Penalty Study Commission

Issue quote: Cathy Ansheles - "Not in Our Name, New Mexico"

The death penalty simply puts families in a state of suspended animation, almost never delivering on the promise of healing while always holding out the false promise of "closure".

— Cathy Ansheles, niece of murder victim Grace Ansheles

Issue quote: Victoria Coward - CT News Junky, May 13, 2011

[The] death penalty is given in fewer than 1 percent of cases, yet it sucks up millions and millions of dollars that could be put toward crime prevention or victims’ services. What I wouldn’t give for a tiny slice of those millions to give my grieving daughters some professional help to process the death of their brother.

— Victoria Coward, whose son, Tyler, was murdered in 2007

Issue quote: Martin Luther King III - Republican-American, April 23, 2012

You may know that my father was gunned down by an assassin's bullet in 1968. My grandmother was gunned down in 1974 by another person. Certainly, I should be one to support the death penatly, but our family has always been against the death penalty.

— Martin Luther King III, son of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Issue quote: Sharon Borcyzewski, on Victims - Arizona Republic. April 12, 2004

The assumption is all too often made that all murder-victim family members want the death penalty. The horrible reality for those of us who have lost loved ones to homicide is that nothing that happens to their murderers is going to bring our loved ones back.

— Sharon Borcyzewski, whose daughter was murdered in 1997

Issue quote: Pamela Joiner - VOICES: Connecticut Murder Victims’ Families Speak out Against the Death Penalty

While so many families like mine are kept in limbo without any justice in our case, we talk about investing more money in the death penalty for just a few cases...the death penalty is a charade. I want the money spent on the death penalty to go toward investigating my son’s murder. I want those resources to go to crime prevention, so that no more mothers lose their children.

— Pamela Joiner, whose son, Jumar, was murdered in 2008, in a case that is still unsolved

Issue quote: Ericka Bridgeford, on Victims - WBAL, Jan 29, 2013

After the funeral is over, a lot of your supporters disappear. You are still left with this pain, and so, instead of using the money to kill more people, it would be awesome if that money went to support victim services to do outreach and to train homicide detectives.

— Ericka Bridgeford, whose brother was murdered

Issue quote: Dennis Paxinos, on Victims - Rocky Dailey, "No death penalty for Covington," Billings Gazette (video), 2008.

As probably the only attorney in the state of Montana who's successfully sought and secured a conviction in a death penalty case, I know firsthand the turmoil it took on the surviving family member in that case...

— Dennis Paxinos, Yellowstone County, MT, explaining why he was not seeking the death penalty in a recent case

Issue quote: Chief James Abbott, on Cost - Fort Worth Star Telegram, January 20, 2008

The death penalty throws millions of dollars down the drain – money that I could be putting directly to work fighting crime every day – while dragging victims' families through a long and torturous process that only exacerbates their pain.

— Police Chief James Abbott, who changed his mind about the death penalty after serving on the New Jersey Death Penalty Study Commission

Issue quote: Judy Kerr, on Cost - Death Penalty Information Center press release, October 20, 2009

The death penalty won't bring my brother back or help to apprehend his murderer. We need to start investing in programs that will actually improve public safety and get more killers off the streets.

— Judy Kerr, California, whose brother was murdered

Issue quote: Vicki Schieber, on Victims - Testimony before the Maryland State Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee. February 21

The death penalty has failed victims’ family members in virtually every way, and many of us – including many who support the death penalty in principle – have come to support its end.

— Vicki Schieber, whose daughter Shannon was murdered in Philadelphia

Issue quote: Janice Greishaber, on Victims - Testimony, December 15, 2004

I’m here to tell you, as the Mother of a homicide victim, that the death penalty brings as much pain as it does relief, that it creates an entirely new layer of pain.

— Janice Greishaber, whose daughter, Jenna, was murdered

Issue quote: Brenda Carrasco - Colorado Repeal Hearing, March 14, 2013

One thing we now know is how incredibly expensive the death penalty is. Studies in Colorado have shown our death penalty uses a tremendous amount of resources, millions more than would be spent if our state’s ultimate punishment were life without parole.

— Brenda Carrasco, testified in CO repeal hearing in 2013

Issue quote: Marie Verzulli, on Victims - Marie Verzulli, whose sister Catherine was murdered in upstate New York

The death penalty divides families at a time when they need each other most. Instead of finding comfort with one another, we find ourselves handcuffed to the criminal justice system, stuck in a process that keeps replaying the worst time of our lives while providing us almost nothing in the way of real support or healing.

— Marie Verzulli, whose sister Catherine was murdered in upstate New York

Issue quote: Carmen Rodriguez - VOICES: Connecticut Murder Victims’ Families Speak out Against the Death Penalty

For me and so many other victims’ family members, the death penalty never is the focus of our attention because we face too many other pressing concerns in the aftermath of a loved ones murder.

— Carment Rodriguez, whose son, Carlos, was murdered in 2002

Issue quote: Linda L. White, on Cost - Amarillo Globe-News, June 21, 2009

[The death penalty] consumes huge sums of money that could be used for direct victims' services, such as counseling, funeral expenses, and educational help for the children left behind.

— Linda L. White, whose daughter was murdered

Issue quote: Vicki Schieber, on Victims - Testimony before the Maryland State Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee. February 21

The death penalty has failed victims’ family members in virtually every way, and many of us – including many who support the death penalty in principle – have come to support its end.

— Vicki Schieber, whose daughter Shannon was murdered in Philadelphia

Issue quote: Victoria Coward - CT News Junky, May 13, 2011

[The] death penalty is given in fewer than 1 percent of cases, yet it sucks up millions and millions of dollars that could be put toward crime prevention or victims’ services. What I wouldn’t give for a tiny slice of those millions to give my grieving daughters some professional help to process the death of their brother.

— Victoria Coward, whose son, Tyler, was murdered in 2007

Issue quote: 49 MD murder victims family members, on Cost - Letter to the Maryland Commission on Capital Punishment signed by 49

It is vitally important that our state address the needs of surviving family and friends as we struggle to heal. We know that elected officials who promote the death penalty often do so with the best intention of helping family members like us. We are writing to say that there are better ways to help us. The death penalty is a broken and costly system... and victims' families like ours don't want it.

— Letter urging repeal of the death penalty signed by 49 Marylanders who have lost a loved one to murder, Aug. 19, 2008

Issue quote: Marie Verzulli, on Victims - Marie Verzulli, whose sister Catherine was murdered in upstate New York

The death penalty divides families at a time when they need each other most. Instead of finding comfort with one another, we find ourselves handcuffed to the criminal justice system, stuck in a process that keeps replaying the worst time of our lives while providing us almost nothing in the way of real support or healing.

— Marie Verzulli, whose sister Catherine was murdered in upstate New York

Issue quote: Vivian Penda - Baltimore Sun, November 17 2011

[On TV] there's so much attention paid to certain murders that you assume the families going through their tragedy are getting support and help. [When] my son, Dennis, was murdered in 2002, and I learned how little support there actually is...Many survivors face trouble just getting out of bed, much less figuring out where to find and fight for grief counseling and other needed services.

— Vivian Penda, whose son, Dennis, was murdered in 2002

Issue quote: Janice Greishaber, on Victims - Testimony, December 15, 2004

I’m here to tell you, as the Mother of a homicide victim, that the death penalty brings as much pain as it does relief, that it creates an entirely new layer of pain.

— Janice Greishaber, whose daughter, Jenna, was murdered

Issue quote: Joanna Barlieb, on Victims - Testimony before the New Jersey Death Penalty Study Commission. September 13, 2006

I can testify from experience that our current system is most unjust for the victims and their loved ones. I can only hope to save other families from the grief of the never-ending appellate process. I promote the substitution of the death penalty only with a life sentence that truly means life in prison with no possibility of parole.

— Joanne Barlieb, whose mother, Cynthia, was murdered

Issue quote: Victoria Coward, on Victims - CT New Junky, May 13, 2011

There is a way forward that can help all victims. We can decide to stop spending so much money, time, and attention on a handful of capital cases and instead commit to focusing on real solutions to violence prevention and real services that all victims of homicide can benefit from.

— Victoria Coward, whose son, Tyler, was murdered in 2007

Issue quote: Bonnita Spikes, on Cost - Testimony, February 21, 2007

From my personal experience struggling for good mental health care for my son, I believe family survivors of murder victims would be much better served if the resources wasted on the death penalty were used to provide quality mental health care for the victims and survivors of violence.

— Bonnita Spikes, whose husband was murdered, and who works with other homicide survivors in Baltimore

Issue quote: Bob Autobee - Bob Autobee, Pueblo Chieftain

As a victim’s father who has been trapped in the labyrinth of the death penalty, and after seeing the real misuse of resources, I am begging our elected officials to do away with our broken death penalty system.

— Bob Autobee, a corrections officer, whose son Eric, also a corrections officer, was murdered by a prison inmate

Issue quote: Henrietta Beckman, on Victims - VOICES: Connecticut Murder Victims’ Families Speak out Against the Death Penalty

The money that we spend on the death penalty would be much better spent funding support groups, providing ongoing counseling to survivors, ensuring that every person who is murdered is able to be buried with dignity, and doing everything we can to prevent the tragedy of murder from ever taking place.

— Henrietta Beckman, whose son, Randy, was murdered in 2003

Issue quote: Vicki Schieber, on Cost - Testimony, February 21, 2007

After a murder occurs, victims may have a variety of perspectives on exactly what will bring them justice or healing. But we can all agree that preventing the murder in the first place would have been the best use of state resources.

— Vicki Schieber, whose daughter Shannon was murdered in Philadelphia

Issue quote: Khalilah Brown-Dean - WTNH, February 29th 2012

The death penalty is not given out equally. It’s about saying certain cases are more important than others, certain crimes are more heinous than others...and for families it’s a real slap in our face.

— Khalilah Brown-Dean, whose cousin was murdered

Issue quote: Arlis Keller - Colorado Repeal Hearing, March 14, 2013

If my brother's wife is sentenced to death for her actions, we will have to face years, perhaps decades, of mandatory appeals.

— Arlis Keller, testified in CO repeal hearing in 2013

Issue quote: James Wells, on Public safety - Testimony, September 27, 2006

...the death penalty is not an effective law enforcement tool in practice. It is a distraction from justice.

— James Wells, National Association of Black Law Enforcement Officers, whose son was murdered

Issue quote: Bruce Grieschaber, on Victims - Testimony, January 25, 2005

So, if it's not a deterrent, if it's not cost effective, if it begets more violence, if it releases a murderer from his earthly punishment, if it puts the victim's family through years and years of reliving the event, if it does not change our life without our loved one, and if it makes us no better than the murderer, what possible reasons could you have, could we have to have a death penalty?

— Bruce Grieshaber, who led the fight to abolish parole in New York after his daughter, Jenna, was murdered

Issue quote: Kathy Garcia, on Victims - Testimony before the Maryland Senate Judicial Proceedings committee. March 6, 2008

While well-intentioned people defend capital punishment "for the victims," surviving family members are left to grieve in silence, without access to ongoing services, peer support, or affordable, specialized counseling. Grassroots organizations around the country have sprung up to meet this need, but most of us struggle on a daily basis to remain in existence.

— Kathy Garcia, trauma expert, victims' advocate, and aunt of a murder victim

Issue quote: Babette Miller - Colorado Repeal Hearing, March 14, 2013

Instead of investing millions in a death penalty case that strings along victims’ for years we should invest that money in services that will help all victims.

— Babette Miller, testified in CO repeal hearing in 2013

Issue quote: Jean Parks, on Cost - News & Record, August 25, 2010

The money N.C. spends on the death penalty for trials, appeals and executions could instead be spent on violence prevention and offender intervention programs such as the Juvenile Justice Project at Campbell University. Preventing violent crime is something that would truly honor our loved ones.

— Dr. Jean Parks, whose sister was murdered in Raleigh, NC

Issue quote: Sharon Borcyzewski, on Victims - Arizona Republic. April 12, 2004

The assumption is all too often made that all murder-victim family members want the death penalty. The horrible reality for those of us who have lost loved ones to homicide is that nothing that happens to their murderers is going to bring our loved ones back.

— Sharon Borcyzewski, whose daughter was murdered in 1997

Issue quote: Gail Rice, on Victims - Testimony before New Hampshire State Legislature, April 8, 2010

[The death penalty means victims’ families are] putting their lives on hold for years, sometimes decades, as they attend new hearings and appeals and relive the murder.

— Gail Rice, whose brother Bruce VanderJagt, a Denver policeman, was murdered in 1997

Issue quote: Deldelp Medina - Mercury News, August 24, 2010

My Tía's killer was her own son -- my cousin. He was in the midst of a psychotic break....Cutting funding to treat mental illness while paying for the death penalty is simply insane.

— Deldelp Medina, whose aunt was murdered by another family member

Issue quote: Linda L. White, on Cost - Amarillo Globe-News, June 21, 2009

[The death penalty] consumes huge sums of money that could be used for direct victims' services, such as counseling, funeral expenses, and educational help for the children left behind.

— Linda L. White, whose daughter was murdered

Issue quote: Bruce Grieschaber, on Victims - Testimony, January 25, 2005

So, if it's not a deterrent, if it's not cost effective, if it begets more violence, if it releases a murderer from his earthly punishment, if it puts the victim's family through years and years of reliving the event, if it does not change our life without our loved one, and if it makes us no better than the murderer, what possible reasons could you have, could we have to have a death penalty?

— Bruce Grieshaber, who led the fight to abolish parole in New York after his daughter, Jenna, was murdered

Issue quote: Steve Monks, on Secondary trauma - Plain Talk Politics, June 17, 2013

For the families of murder victims a death sentence almost always represents a false promise… murder victims’ families are sentenced to navigate the system for decades with no end in sight.

— Steve Monks, attorney and former GOP chairman in Durham County, NC

Issue quote: Gail Rice - Southtown Star, October 17th, 2010

From the very beginning, the death penalty makes false claims about how it "helps" victims. We are told that we need the death penalty for "closure" and "justice." But in reality, fewer than 2 percent of all cases end up with death verdicts, so it's simply wrong to act as if the healing process for families must be tied to an execution. Do we really believe there's no justice for the other 98 percent?

— Gail Rice, whose brother, a Denver policeman, was murdered in 1997

Issue quote: Neely Goen, on Cost - The Wichita Eagle, February 6, 2013

At one time I believed that the death penalty would benefit people like my mother and me, but in reality nothing could be further from the truth.

— Neely Goen, daughter of victim

Issue quote: Kathy Garcia, on Victims - Testimony before the Maryland Senate Judicial Proceedings committee. March 6, 2008

The criminal justice system is hard enough on survivors. When the death penalty is added to the process, the survivor's connection to the system becomes a long-term and often multi-decade nightmare that almost never ends in the promised result. I have watched too many families go through this over the years to believe that there is any way to make the system work better.

— Kathy Garcia, trauma expert, victims' advocate, and aunt of a murder victim

Issue quote: Kathy Garcia, on Victims - Testimony before the Maryland Senate Judicial Proceedings committee. March 6, 2008

The criminal justice system is hard enough on survivors. When the death penalty is added to the process, the survivor's connection to the system becomes a long-term and often multi-decade nightmare that almost never ends in the promised result. I have watched too many families go through this over the years to believe that there is any way to make the system work better.

— Kathy Garcia, trauma expert, victims' advocate, and aunt of a murder victim

Issue quote: Carolee Brooks, on Victims - Testimony, January 21, 2005

Honor my son and other victims of murder by acting with the highest regard for human life. You must act with the minds and spirits at levels higher that the murderer who killed my son.

— Carolee Brooks, whose son was murdered

Issue quote: Kate Lowenstein, on Victims - Testimony, December 15, 2004

The death penalty creates a hierarchy of victims. Whose murder is considered so bad that it is one of the chosen few to get the resources to solve it and sentence the killer to death? ...We all know that the agony of having a family member murdered is equal in all of us, no matter what color we are, how much money we have or where we live. Murder levels us all equally with its pain.

— Kate Lowenstein, whose father, Congressman Allard Lowenstein, was murdered

Issue quote: Kathy Garcia, on Victims - Testimony before the Maryland Senate Judicial Proceedings committee. March 6, 2008

The capital punishment system may have been put in place to serve us survivors, but it actually has been a colossal failure.

— Kathy Garcia, trauma expert and aunt of a murder victim, who used to support the death penalty

Issue quote: Vicki Schieber, on Cost - Testimony, February 21, 2007

After a murder occurs, victims may have a variety of perspectives on exactly what will bring them justice or healing. But we can all agree that preventing the murder in the first place would have been the best use of state resources.

— Vicki Schieber, whose daughter Shannon was murdered in Philadelphia

Issue quote: Ericka Bridgeford, on Victims - WBAL, Jan 29, 2013

After the funeral is over, a lot of your supporters disappear. You are still left with this pain, and so, instead of using the money to kill more people, it would be awesome if that money went to support victim services to do outreach and to train homicide detectives.

— Ericka Bridgeford, whose brother was murdered

Issue quote: 49 MD murder victims family members, on Cost - Letter to the Maryland Commission on Capital Punishment signed by 49

It is vitally important that our state address the needs of surviving family and friends as we struggle to heal. We know that elected officials who promote the death penalty often do so with the best intention of helping family members like us. We are writing to say that there are better ways to help us. The death penalty is a broken and costly system... and victims' families like ours don't want it.

— Letter urging repeal of the death penalty signed by 49 Marylanders who have lost a loved one to murder, Aug. 19, 2008

Issue quote: Vivian Penda, on Cost - Gazette.net, October 28, 2009

If we are serious about helping victims' families, we should go ahead and repeal the death penalty, sparing them the agonizing wait for cases to come to an end. Eliminating the death penalty will also save the state money that could be reinvested to provide more meaningful care for the families of murder victims, something I know from personal experience is lacking now.

— Vivian Penda, whose son, Dennis, was murdered

Issue quote: Vivian Penda, on Cost - Gazette.net, October 28, 2009

If we are serious about helping victims' families, we should go ahead and repeal the death penalty, sparing them the agonizing wait for cases to come to an end. Eliminating the death penalty will also save the state money that could be reinvested to provide more meaningful care for the families of murder victims, something I know from personal experience is lacking now.

— Vivian Penda, whose son, Dennis, was murdered

Issue quote: Carolee Brooks, on Victims - Testimony, January 21, 2005

Honor my son and other victims of murder by acting with the highest regard for human life. You must act with the minds and spirits at levels higher that the murderer who killed my son.

— Carolee Brooks, whose son was murdered

Issue quote: James Abbott, on Victims - Testimony before the Maryland House Judiciary Committee. March 13, 2008

If I were ever killed in the line of duty, I would never, ever want my wife or children to have to suffer the way the families who testified before me have suffered. Instead, I would want to know that the person who did it was behind bars for life, and that my family had the services they needed to heal and the financial support they needed to live without further sacrifice.

— Police Chief James Abbott, who changed his mind about the death penalty after serving on the New Jersey Death Penalty Study Commission.

Issue quote: Donald McCartin, on Cost - The Globe and Mail, March 4, 2009

[The death penalty is] a waste of time and money...The only thing it does is prolong the agony of the victims' families.

— Donald McCartin, self-described right-wing Republican and former California jurist who sent nine men to death row

People are asking

Some say that life in prison without parole actually provides a more swift and certain penalty for mur... (Victims)

Some say that life in prison without parole actually provides a more swift and certain penalty for murder. Isn’t death the most certain there is?

Death is the most uncertain punishment there is – it takes years or decades and is often reversed instead of being carried out. Life without parole, on the other hand, begins immediately.

Other tough questions about the death penalty
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