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OpEdNews Op Eds    H2'ed 8/9/10

Another Murder Victim's Family Opposes Death Penalty

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A Philadelphia suburban district attorney has announced that he will not seek the death penalty against a woman and her lover for the June murder of the woman's husband, Kevin Mengel.

Chester County DA Joe Carroll said the case does not meet the conditions required to pursue the death penalty.

Carroll also noted that the victim's parents did not want the death penalty for their son's murderers. And that is why I am writing this.

Whenever I write or speak about my opposition to the death penalty, I invariably hear from death penalty proponents who argue that killing the killer serves the best interests of the victim's family, giving them closure. But not all families are thirsty for revenge. This Chester County case is one example of that. So are the cases of the many family members who form the organization Murder Victims' Families for Reconciliation (MVFR). Founded in 1976, MVFR actively works for abolition of the death penalty in all states that still use it.

These enlightened souls offer a wide variety of reasons for their opposition to the death penalty:

"¢ Endless trials re-open emotional wounds and put off the time when real healing can begin.

"¢ The vast resources and attention spent on the death penalty is better spent supporting crime victims and their families, and preventing crime in the first place.

"¢ The risk of executing the innocent -- something that appears to have happened in more than one known case -- is too high a price to pay.

"¢ Biases of geography, race, and class plague the system.

"¢ Executions create more families who have lost a loved one to killing.

"¢ And many think it is just plain wrong for the state to kill.

MVFR's perspectives are shared by a growing majority of the world community. Indeed, there is an unmistakable worldwide trend towards abolition of the death penalty. According to Amnesty International (AI), "Since 1990, an average of three countries each year have abolished the death penalty, and today over two-thirds of the world's nations have ended capital punishment in law or practice." AI calls the death penalty "the ultimate, irreversible denial of human rights."

In maintaining the death penalty here in the U.S., we align ourselves with the other executing nations of the world such as Afghanistan, China, North Korea, Saudi Arabia, Zimbabwe, and a handful of other countries known for their systematic violations of human rights.

It's been said that you are the company you keep.

Shouldn't we instead keep company with those who are less barbaric?

Some may accuse death penalty opponents of being soft on crime. But we don't want to free the criminals, we want to lock them up for life without parole. And isn't life in prison actually a harsher punishment than death? When the execution is done, the punishment is over. With life in prison, the punishment lasts much longer.

And, of course, killing a killer will never bring the victim back. It's just more killing.

Haven't we had enough killing?

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Mary Shaw is a Philadelphia-based writer and activist, with a focus on politics, human rights, and social justice. She is a former Philadelphia Area Coordinator for the Nobel-Prize-winning human rights group Amnesty International, and her views (more...)
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