For Victims, Against the Death Penalty

Also posted on MVFHR’s blog

At a ceremony on the campus of Virginia Tech today, a group called the National Coalition of Victims in Action is presenting “A Resolution in Support of the Victims and Families at Virginia Tech” to members of the college community, including the college president and the families of those who were killed on the campus last April. You can read the text of the resolution here.

MVFHR members Gordon and Elaine Rondeau, who are dedicated activists within the victims’ community, came up with the idea for the resolution several months ago and have reached out to a long list of national and local organizations (including MVFHR) who have pledged their support by signing on to the resolution. The intent is for the support to go beyond today’s ceremony; the organizations who signed on to the resolution are working to offer various kinds of concrete and ongoing help to the families of the Virginia Tech shooting victims.

Anti-death penalty activists often make the point that the time, money, and effort spent carrying out the death penalty could be better spent meeting the real needs of victims in the aftermath of violence. Many MVFHR members, in addition to working against the death penalty, devote themselves to providing support, information, and practical assistance to victims and their families.

One crucial way to help victims, and to honor those who have been murdered, is to work to prevent future violence. Marie Deans, whose mother-in-law Penny was murdered in 1972, said years ago, “If we truly cared about victims, we would put all our knowledge and resources into saving them. Crime prevention, not retaliation, should be our number one goal.” Gordon and Elaine Rondeau reminded us of this when they wrote, in a recent email, “We need to emphasize that crime prevention and violence prevention would also be a critical component to elimination of the death penalty.”

Inspired by this comment and by the work that the Rondeaus and their many allies have done to create the resolution they are presenting today, we are going to devote a series of blog posts to the topic of violence prevention and the many innovative ways in which MVFHR members are engaging in that work. The series will start on Monday, September 24th and continue throughout the week, so come back and visit us often to read about these inspiring and valuable efforts.

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Hooman Hedayati

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