Check out this editorial by the LA TIMES 3/31/17
The death penalty doesn’t bring closure so much as it extends trauma
Quote: “studies have found that capital-murder trials and executions rarely bring a sense of closure, or peace, to the families.”
Quote: “Grief, as those who have experienced it can attest, never really goes away. But it does fade with time. It takes much longer to fade, however, if the criminal justice system, in its misguided thirst for taking one life to atone for loss of another, forces the grief-stricken and traumatized to keep reliving the moment — cruel and unusual punishment, if you will, for those who are guilty of nothing.”
Thanks to Larry Edwards for forwarding this information. In my work with families since 1995, I concur with this editorial as this is the sentiment I hear from most families.
Appreciations to all who ask the important questions of what truly helps these families. It may be that we need to reduce blaming anyone and look at what we steer people towards. There are few studies that give us this information.
When the criminal justice system does its job it has put someone away that is a danger to society and prevented someone from being wrongly convicted. It is not the solution for families who say they have a life sentence. The criminal justice system is designed to deal with the crime and the criminal. It’s job is not to resolve the trauma that impacts folks whose loved one was murdered. While there is room for them to reduce adding more trauma to families, it is not their job to work with the traumatic grief that accompanies homicide.
As popular a topic as Murder is, there is still too few resources for families after a murder. This overwhelming, intense and horrific experience puts families at risk for depression, post traumatic disorder and substance abuse. Family includes up to 11 members not just the one you see that may speak for the family. The absorption in the criminal case prevents most from getting the trauma support that would alter their longer term adjustment.
Instead there is a misguided push by many around these families and the families themselves to seek and get justice via the criminal justice system. Families become absorbed by the workings of a system they know little about and have little voice in.
Families do not realize this until sometime after the sentence is passed. They live four or more years waiting for a trial to end with interruptions, postponements and lives on hold. Families who’s case got “life in prison without the possibility of parole” escape the revisiting of their case by periodic and painful reliving of parole hearings but true justice for all would be to have their loved ones returned. There are many who never see their case go to trial.
So, let’s not argue about who is or isn’t doing something but move to work together and not make claim that any one of our solutions is THE SOLUTION. We all have something to contribute and survivors voices will light our path.
Thank you for all that you do,