Many family members of murder victims oppose the death penalty, for a variety of reasons. Some believe that it is wrong for individuals to kill and it is wrong for the state to kill. Others believe that the risk of executing an innocent person is unacceptable and that the system cannot be made to work fairly and accurately. Still others believe the lengthy legal process is just too hard on victims, and that it is just not worth the time and expense. Below are voices of murder victim family members who believe that the death penalty is not consistent public policy, does not make the public safer, does not deter crime, and does not serve victims.
(Green Bay, WI)
Marge is a Nurse Practitioner living in Green Bay. She is a member of the diocesan and the St. Norbert Abbey Peace and Justice Committees, a Norbertine lay associate and a volunteer in her parish. Her brother Thomas Williams was murdered in Houston, Texas in 2001.
"I feel like I come from a pretty sound base when I address my pro-life concerns for the death penalty. I don't think it's an answer. It's not a solution in terms of my own brother. Nothing is going to bring him back. I would get absolutely no satisfaction from seeing another person murdered. That's not a tribute to my brother or any other victim of homicide."
Aleta Reckling Chossek
Aleta Reckling Chossek is the assistant to the bishop of the Greater Milwaukee Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. Her father was murdered in Lake County, Illinois in 1994.
“The death penalty option brought no peace, no closure to our family. Murder brings out primitive emotions in families. In addition to the grief, there is the natural desire for closure, retribution, justice and, ultimately, peace. The whole family, even the youngest grandchildren, lives with the legacy of that terrible death.”
“Christians profess that Jesus took all sin upon him in his death. Yet we flawed humans seek to answer death with death. Does that not diminish Christ's suffering on our behalf? I believe that God has taken care of my sin, my father's sin and the murderer's sin. No act of man can make God's sacrifice more complete. A referendum is not a suitable vehicle for honoring people's experiences and beliefs about death and justice.”
Robert W. Hoelscher
Robert is a member of Murder Victim’s Families for Reconciliation (MVFR), a national organization of murder victim family members who oppose the death penalty in all cases. Robert’s father was murdered when he was seven years old.
“Two days after my father’s murder, my mother called the parents of the young man responsible. She told them that she that she understood, that she had sons, too and that hatred would not bring my dad back. She forgave their son right there. As I grew up I never associated ‘closure’ with the fate of my father’s killer. And I learned from my mother that another death would bring me no peace or offer real justice for our community. Today, the teenager that so long ago made five children fatherless remains in a small prison cell in East Texas, where I continue to hope that one day he will wake up and ask himself, ‘What have I done?’”