Murder Victim's Families for Human Rights Report-creating More Victims-2006
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MVFHR 2161 Massachusetts Avenue • Cambridge MA 02140 USA www.mvfhr.org • 617-491-9600 A report from Murder Victims’ Families for Human Rights with a foreword from Amnesty International USA Creating More Victims How Executions Hurt the Families Left Behind Murder Victims’ Families for Human Rights Cambridge, MA Creating More Victims: How Executions Hurt the Families Left Behind, by Susannah Sheffer and Renny Cushing. © 2006 by the authors and Murder Victims’ Families for Human Rights Cover photos (from left to right) by Abe Bonowitz, Scott Langley, Fabian Biasio. Interior photos by Abe Bonowitz and Scott Langley. Design and Production: Angela Mark and Red Sun Press. To request multiple copies of this report for distribution to classes, workshops, trainings, or other audiences, write MVFHR, 2161 Massachusetts Avenue, Cambridge MA 02140; email firstname.lastname@example.org, telephone 617-491-9600. For helpful comments on drafts of this report, we are grateful to Elizabeth Beck, Amanda Bergson-Shilcock, Richard Dieter, Aaron Falbel, Robert Meeropol, and Margaret Vandiver Foreword he cruelty of the death penalty is T cycle of violence by generating more become “shadow victims,” stigmatized not confined to the prisoner victims. I am thus heartened by the within their communities, marginal- whose life is toyed with in the name of timely publication of Creating More ized by the media, and bypassed by justice. Families of the condemned are Victims: How Executions Hurt the the authorities in the years before and also ensnared in the cycle of hope and Families Left Behind, by one of our after an execution. Creating More despair that this degrading punish- long-time partners in the abolition Victims breaks new ground by square- ment inevitably breeds. The mistakes movement, Murder Victims’ Families ly placing this issue within a human and inequities of the capital justice for Human Rights. This report, rights framework and maintaining that system are perpetrated not only on the released appropriately on Internation- families of the executed deserve the defendants, but also on their relatives. al Human Rights Day, serves to strip same recognition and support afforded And in the end, and for no measurable away the “conspiracy of silence” and any group that has suffered a violent benefit, all the state achieves by an give voice to a group of victims who and traumatic loss. This is an invalu- execution is one more dead body and have for too long been largely ignored able tool for victims’ rights advocates, more grieving family members. in the debate surrounding the death mental health professionals, child wel- As an organization that works on penalty: the families of the executed. fare advocates, as well as for Amnesty behalf of victims of human rights The mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, International activists who can use this violations Amnesty sons, and daughters of the con- report to bring to greater public con- International has always maintained demned undergo a trauma that is sciousness these forgotten victims of that the death penalty perpetuates the uniquely painful and poignant. They an outdated government policy. worldwide, Larry Cox Executive Director Amnesty International USA Introduction “It’s not like a relative dying from a terminal illness. When someone you love gets killed, you can’t prepare for that type of pain.” – Wendy “I have health problems that I didn’t have before this happened. It never really ends, emotionally. The pain is always there.” – Jonnie “All these years later, it’s something you don’t ever get over. You just learn to live with it.” – Pam T here is no such thing as an isolated act of victimization: for every direct act against another human being, there are additional family members and friends who experience their own form of suffering. Marlene Young, president of the World Society of Victimology, made this point in a 2006 address to the United Nations Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice. Young gave figures about the number of victimizations that occur around the world each year and then observed: These numbers do not take into account the families and friends who will also suffer loss, pain and trauma as a result of the violation of a loved one. A psychiatrist in the United States once said that for every person killed there are three people whose relationship with that person will cause them to suffer for the rest of their lives. I ask you to consider whether only three people would grieve and suffer if you were to die? I suggest that for most people the extended circle of pain after such a death involves hundreds.1 While the death of a family member always represents a significant loss, Young is referring here specifically to the effect of a loved one’s being killed as opposed to dying. The shock and the awareness that death was caused by the deliberate act of another human being are distinctly traumatic and provoke questions that a death from natural causes does not. Wendy, Jonnie, and Pam, the three surviving family members quoted above, offer a glimpse of the distinct and ongoing suffering to which Young refers. The relatives of these particular survivors were killed by state execution, and the survivors report feelings and experiences that in many ways resemble those of murder victims’ family members. But as a group, family members of the executed have only very recently begun to receive notice.2 The recognition and assistance that the victims’ rights movement has managed to secure for many survivors have not yet reached this group. The past three decades have brought a tremendous surge in recognition of victims’ rights and victims’ needs, both in the United States and worldwide. All 50 states in the U.S. now have laws recognizing victims’ right to be treated with respect and dignity and to be informed and heard throughout the criminal justice process. Victims’ advocacy organizations and victims’ service professionals aim to help victims cope with the effects of violence and trauma. In 1985, the UN General Assembly unanimously adopted the Universal Declaration of Principles of Justice for Victims of Crime and Abuse of Power. Although the document is non-binding – it urges but cannot require countries to take the actions that it recommends – it represents a kind of international consensus and aspiration about how to help survivors in the aftermath of a victimization. Although family members of executed persons are not explicitly named in the Declaration, we believe a strong case can be made that this group falls within the Declaration’s parameters and therefore deserves the recognition and attention that ought to be accorded to any people who have suffered a violent and traumatic loss. Our collective aspiration about responding to survivors in the aftermath of violence ought to extend to the death penalty’s surviving family members. 1 Marlene A. Young, “Action on UN Standards and Norms on Victim Issues,” submitted to the UN Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice, April 27, 2006. Marlene Young has also served as the Executive Director of the National Organization for Victim Assistance, the largest victim assistance organization in the U.S. 2 See Rachel King, Capital Consequences: Families of the Condemned Tell Their Stories (Rutgers University Press, 2005), Susan Sharp, Hidden Victims: The Effects of the Death Penalty on Families of the Accused (Rutgers University Press, 2005), Elizabeth Beck, Sarah Britto, and Arlene Andrews, In the Shadow of Death: Restorative Justice and Capital Offenders’ Family Members (Oxford University Press, 2007), and Robert Meeropol, An Execution in the Family (St. Martin’s Press, 2003) 1 On October 27, 2005, a group of parents, children, siblings, nieces, and grandchildren of people who have been executed in the United States gathered in Austin, Texas for a private support meeting. It was, for many, the first time they had ever had the opportunity to talk with other family members of the executed. Following the private meeting, the group held a public ceremony that marked the official launch of Murder Victims’ Families for Human Rights’ No Silence, No Shame project. Participants placed two roses in a vase: one in memory of their relative who was executed and one in memory of the murder victim. While holding the roses, participants took a moment to name each person being remembered and to say a few words. In evaluating the social costs of the death penalty, we should not only be weighing the harm that may be caused or prevented by executions themselves. We must also ask about the costs of creating a new group of victims, and about what we need to do to address the emotional and physical harm to family members caused by executions that have already occurred. If family members of the executed are not named in the Declaration, how can we assume that they are covered by it? The document makes clear that the principles of justice it puts forth are for victims of crime and abuse of power, and “abuse of power” is defined this way: B. Victims of Abuse of Power. 18. “Victims” means persons who, individually or collectively, have suffered harm, including physical or mental injury, emotional suffering, economic loss or substantial impairment of their fundamental rights, through acts or omissions that do not yet constitute violations of national criminal laws but of internationally recognized norms relating to human rights. Does this include the death penalty? It depends on whether you believe that the death penalty constitutes a violation of an internationally recognized human rights norm – a question that has arisen repeatedly since the adoption of the UN Convention on Human Rights in 1948. While we cannot take up the entire argument or present its full history here, we note that UN resolutions, covenants, and charters in the years since 1948 have repeatedly stated complete abolition of the death penalty as a goal.3 In 2005, 53 countries debated the question at the annual meeting of the UN Commission on Human Rights and ultimately passed a resolution condemning the death penalty and urging all nations to abolish it. This in itself is a compelling reason to consider the possibility that family members of executed persons count as victims under the Declaration and should be responded to as such. But there is also another way to approach the question. The basis for the Declaration, for the state and national victims’ rights laws that have been established over the past two decades, for victim assistance programs, and indeed for any movement or effort toward recognizing the needs and rights of victims, has always been the experiences of victims themselves. Whatever we as a society know about the effects of victimization, we have learned from victims’ reports of their experiences, feelings, symptoms, and recovery. That has been the basis of the work of Murder Victims’ Families for Human Rights as well. Founded in 2004, Murder Victims’ Families for Human Rights seeks to reframe the death penalty as a human rights issue rather than a criminal See, for example, the history offered in Roger Hood, “Capital Punishment: The USA in World Perspective,” Center for Human Rights and Global Justice Working Paper, November 3, 2005. 3 2 justice issue. We assert that executions do constitute a violation of basic human rights. From the start, our members have included survivors of victims of criminal murder (including terrorist attacks), survivors of extra-judicial killings, and survivors of people who have been executed. In 2005, we launched an initiative called “No Silence, No Shame” that focuses on family members of the executed in the United States.4 To launch the project, we brought a group of 17 family members of the executed together for a private gathering and public ceremony in Austin, Texas in October 2005, and over the following months we conducted interviews with those participants and 10 others.5 These interviews, along with statements and other materials from the participants, form the basis of this report. A word of acknowledgment before we continue: although we assert that there are important commonalities in the experiences of family members of murder victims and family members of executed persons, we also recognize that there are important differences that cannot and should not be ignored. One obvious difference is that when an individual is killed by execution, the perpetrator is “the state” – a more ambiguous and less easily confronted offender than an individual murderer. Another difference, perhaps even more obvious, is that the per- son killed during an execution is not an innocent victim.6 Even if it can be argued that family members of the executed suffer undeniable harm, the narrative of victimization does not begin with the execution and its aftermath but rather with original murder and its aftermath. As a victims’ organization, this is not something we forget or dismiss. But we do not believe that the pain of one group of survivors is redressed by causing pain to another group of survivors. Moreover, while it is obvious that as an anti-death penalty organization we oppose executions, our focus in this document is on the effect of the death penalty on surviving family members – people who have not committed any crime. Supporters of the death penalty may argue that the suffering of the family members is simply “collateral damage” – a price society must be willing to pay for the administration of justice in the aftermath of a murder. Our interest – again, as a victims’ organization – is in minimizing harm wherever possible. If, as we are about to show, each execution causes demonstrable harm to the surviving family members, such that they constitute victims as defined by the Declaration of Basic Principles of Justice for Victims of Crime and Abuse of Power, it is incumbent upon us to reduce or eliminate that further victimization by choosing an alternative response. Jonnie Warner’s brother, Larry Griffin, was executed in Missouri in 1995. “People don’t understand that the death penalty has an impact on families that is so far-reaching. My mother has never gotten over it. She has changed so much since it happened. All of the kids have a hard time understanding it. The death penalty creates so many more victims.” The U.S. focus at this stage of the project is both practical and philosophical: as a new organization, based in the U.S., it is practical for us to begin where we are. As well, we recognize that the United States’ continued use of the death penalty is significant within the international human rights debate. MVFHR’s membership includes people outside the U.S., however, and in time we anticipate expanding the scope of the No Silence, No Shame project. 5 In writing this report, we drew upon material from these interviews and also from contact and discussion with family members of the executed within our membership that occurred prior to the official development of the No Silence, No Shame project. See Appendix 2, page 23, for a list of families whose stories inform this report. 6 Except in cases in which doubt has been raised about the individual’s guilt. 4 3 The Impact of Victimization ow are families affected by vio- H make the case that what they have lent loss, and what can society gone through is as much a victim- do to help? A decade after the adop- ization as anything else described tion of the Declaration of Basic in the Handbook. Below are brief Principles of Justice for Victims of excerpts from the Handbook and a Crime and Abuse of Power, the UN discussion of the relevant findings Commission on Crime Prevention from our interviews with family and Criminal Justice resolved to members of the executed. develop a manual that would serve as a guide for putting its principles into practice. Published in 1999, The Handbook on Justice for Victims By the Deliberate Act of Another Human Being was prepared by a group of experts from more than 40 countries.7 It lays out guidelines about how victims ought to be treated, how to develop victim assistance programs, how to Irene Cartwright’s son, Richard Cartwright, was executed in Texas in 2005. “Richard’s daughter Ricki was born a couple of months before Richard was sentenced, and she was 8 years old when he was executed. One of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do was pick Ricki up from school for her last visit with her father before he was killed.” provide training for various groups who help or interact with victims (including, for example, health care professionals, clergy and spiritual Crime is usually experienced as more serious than an accident or similar misfortune. It is difficult to come to terms with the fact that loss and injury have been caused by the deliberate act of another human being. (Handbook, p. 6) leaders, schools and universities, media professionals, and employers). In states that allow the death penalty, a judicial execution is not The Handbook devotes a sec- legally a crime, but the family tion to the physical, financial, and members we interviewed certainly psychological impact of victimiza- reported difficulty in coming to tion and an exploration of its social terms with the fact that their loved costs. Looking at the experience of one’s death was caused by the family members of the executed in deliberate act of another human light of the Handbook’s observations being. Their narratives of trauma is a useful exercise that allows us and confusion in the aftermath of simultaneously to present the voic- the experience have this as a cen- es of these family members and to tral question. 7 The Handbook on Justice for Victims: On the use and application of the Declaration of Basic Principles of Justice for Victims of Crime and Abuse of Power, published by the UN Office for Drug Control and Crime Prevention and the Centre for International Crime Prevention. www.uncjin.org/Standards/9857 4 “I don’t think people under- Irene initially thought she was stand what executions do to the handling her son’s execution fairly families of the person being execut- well, considering the obvious hor- ed,” says Billie Jean Mayberry, ror of it, but the first Christmas whose brother, Robert Coe, was afterward and the subsequent executed in Tennessee in 2000. “To months were difficult. Irene found us, our brother was murdered right herself overcome with lethargy, in front of our eyes. It changed all unable to do anything but sit and of our lives.” The Coe siblings wit- think about what had happened. nessed their brother’s execution, Finally she went on anti-depres- and it is clear from Billie Jean’s sants and feels herself “getting comment that watching the “delib- back to normal,” but the memory erate act” of their brother’s life does not really leave. “It’s some- being taken felt to them like watch- thing you carry alone,” she says. ing a murder. When Celia McWee protests Irene Cartwright, whose son against an upcoming execution, Richard was executed in Texas in she carries a sign saying that the 2005, echoes Billie Jean’s belief that state in question “is murdering a people don’t give much thought to mother’s child tonight.” Celia will the impact of an execution on the never forget that everyone on surviving family. Indeed, she death row is somebody’s child, admits that before her own son was because her own son, Jerry sentenced to death, she herself did McWee, was executed in South not consider the families much, Carolina in 2004. “Some days I either. “I’d never thought about any wonder about my ability to go on,” of these people having a family,” she says two years later. Her grand- she says. “It was like they were daughter, Misty McWee, clearly hatched and grew up in isolation. struggled with the same question I’m ashamed to say that, but I think in the aftermath of the execution. that’s where a lot of people are. At 14, Misty was shocked when Now I wish people could under- she learned that her father had stand that everyone who is execut- been charged with capital murder, ed had a mother and father, maybe but as angry, disbelieving, and brothers and sisters, aunts and abandoned as she felt then, she uncles, friends, whatever, and that says now that she believes she each one of those people have been could have dealt with her father’s hurt and impacted by the execu- spending his life in prison. “But to tion.” have a parent executed – knowing Celia McWee’s son, Jerry McWee, was executed in South Carolina in 2004. “Even though we knew what was going to happen, it was so difficult to talk about it. We couldn’t even talk about things like, what hymn would you like them to play at the service. When somebody’s ill, you can discuss that sort of thing with them, but with Jerry, we just couldn’t do it. I had to fight with him because he didn’t even want me to be present at the execution. He didn’t want to see me cry. He said, ‘You’ve cried enough,’ and I said, ‘I promise I won’t.’ When the day of the execution came, I kept my promise to Jerry. In the one instant that he turned to look at me, I wiped my tears away so he didn’t see them.” 5 Robert Meeropol’s parents, Ethel and Julius Rosenberg, were executed in New York (by the federal government) in 1953. “I was 3 when my parents were arrested and 6 when they were executed. My earliest distinct memories of my parents are of visiting them on death row. Clearly, I didn’t understand what was going on, but I had a sense that ‘they’ were out there, ‘they’ were very powerful, and ‘they’ were attacking ‘us.’ Of course I didn’t know exactly who ‘they’ and ‘we’ were. So I had a generalized sense of anxiety, an incomprehensible sword of Damocles hanging over me. I was frightened, angry, and grew up with a suppressed need to attack those who had attacked my family. I survived because a supportive community surrounded me, but what about other children who do not have such a support system?” that he died because someone until her husband David Martinez pushed chemicals into him – to me was executed in Texas in 2005. that felt like murder as well. It’s Christina’s father had been mur- different from his dying of natural dered when Christina was a young causes in prison.” girl of 9, and she remembers Misty was 28 when her father responding with a combination of was executed, and she suffered withdrawal and aggressiveness as from severe depression in the year she struggled to absorb what had following the event, culminating in happened. The men convicted of a hospitalization after a suicide killing Christina’s father served attempt near the one-year anniver- brief sary. “It felt like the two things were Christina grew up she maintained connected, my father’s execution that she believed in the death and my cutting my wrists,” she penalty and thought it was what recalls. “I didn’t care what hap- her father’s killers deserved. sentences, and as pened to me. I felt like I should go Shocked and devastated when be with him.” A mother herself her husband was charged with now, Misty is finding her way capital murder, Christina still felt toward greater emotional stability, that someone who committed a but she still struggles to come to murder deserved to die in return. terms with her father’s execution “I couldn’t stand the idea of losing and the entire process surrounding him and of what that would do to it. “Why couldn’t we have had me and our children,” she recalls, someone to help us through it?” “but I did believe he deserved to she wonders. “When we walked in die for what he did.” the courtroom, people gave us Yet even as she believed in exe- dirty looks, just because we cution as a legitimate punishment, belonged to our father. You won- she also couldn’t quite believe that der, what did we as kids do to it would take place. “It’s hard to deserve this? There’s so much explain,” she says now. “I believed you’re trying to understand and it it should happen, but I also doesn’t help to have people judging believed it wouldn’t actually hap- you. People look at it like, the pen. A civilized society doesn’t go whole family must be bad.” around killing people. You don’t Christina Lawson didn’t realize believe they’re going to take your the extent to which an execution of healthy husband and walk him to a family member would feel similar his death. You just don’t do that.” to the murder of a family member 6 jail It wasn’t until the day of the execution that the reality of the experience hit Christina – on many From One Generation to the Next levels. “A guard asked me if I’d brought my tickets to the show,” she says, beginning to recount the litany of dignity violations that she experienced as a family member of the person being executed. Then they wouldn’t look us in the eye when they frisked us. And afterwards, they were pushing us out the door and I looked up and saw that not even a minute had gone by since his death. I didn’t even get to stand there and realize what had happened. Then we Research shows that the shock waves from victimization touch not only the victim but also the victim’s immediate family and relatives, neighbours and acquaintances. This holds true for the emotional as well as the financial consequences, and the effects can endure for years or even a lifetime. In the case of genocide, child abuse, exposure to violence and abuse of power, the effects can be passed on from one generation to the next. (Handbook, p. 5) started walking out of the administration building and We have already begun to see my whole world started spin- the ways in which the shock waves ning. The activists were pack- from an execution affect the surviv- ing up and leaving and the pro- ing family members, and we will death penalty side was yelling continue to explore that from vari- at us and I kept thinking, why ous angles throughout this report. are you yelling at me? I didn’t What is notable about this excerpt do anything. I realized I was from the Handbook is the observa- being punished for something tion that effects can be passed on David did. from one generation to the next. Barbara Allen’s uncle, Joseph Stanley Faulder, was executed in Texas in 1999. “For 14 years my uncle was on death row in the United States and our family, in Canada, had no idea. All we knew was that he had disappeared. He thought we knew where he was but didn’t want to have anything to do with him. When we finally found out, we were relieved he was alive but overwhelmed by the sadness and gravity of the situation. I had given very little thought to the death penalty before this. It’s just not part of the social conscience of Canada. I was aware that it occurred in the U.S., but never in my wildest dreams did I think my family would be involved.” Robert Meeropol, whose parents Ethel and Julius Rosenberg were executed by the U.S. government in 1953, points out that “no one has studied how the execution of an immediate family member impacts children. We don’t even know how many children have an immediate family member on 7 death row in the United States today. Worse, we don’t know the For 15 years, Stanley Faulder’s Canadian family had no idea that he had been sentenced to death in the state of Texas. According to the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations, an international effect that having a parent executed will have upon their impressionable lives, and the cost society may pay, for that impact.”8 treaty that the United States has ratified, Texas authorities should We view the “No Silence, No have informed Faulder at the time of his 1977 arrest that he had the Shame” interviews as a beginning right to seek assistance from the Canadian consulate, and should attempt to explore the impact of executions on children in the fami- have notified the Canadian government of Faulder’s situation if he lies of the executed. What we are had requested that they do so. seeing is that the effects are endur- Sandra Babcock, an attorney with the Texas Resource Center who took Faulder’s case in 1992, filed a motion with the U.S. Supreme Court arguing that Faulder’s rights had been violated under ing and sometimes manifest themselves even in children who would not be described as immediate family members. the Vienna Convention. Although U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine For fourteen years, Stanley Albright intervened on Faulder’s behalf, and although the Supreme Faulder’s Canadian family was Court initially granted Faulder an indefinite stay, the Court then dissolved the stay and Faulder was executed in 1999. But the case had unaware that they had a relative on death row in the United States; they knew only that he was missing important repercussions. Sandra Babcock notes that the U.S. govern- (see sidebar). When the family ment has since started notifying detained foreign nationals of their finally learned that Faulder was right to contact their consulates, and in late 1999 the Inter-American Court on Human Rights ruled that a state is in violation of interna- incarcerated and facing a death sentence in Texas, they became involved from afar, with Faulder’s tional law if it executes a person whose rights have not been upheld niece, Barbara Allen, often serving under the Vienna Convention. as the family’s spokesperson. It is also interesting to note that in 2001 the International Court of Justice ruled that the United States violated the Vienna Barbara’s sons were 8 and 11 when the family first learned that a relative had been sentenced to Convention when the state of Arizona failed to inform Karl and death. “They didn’t know him, but Walter LaGrand, two German nationals who were charged with cap- they knew he was family,” Barbara ital murder, of their right to seek assistance from their consulate. The explains. After the execution, LaGrand brothers were executed in 1999. Barbara’s younger son Warren, by that time 16 years old, had a particularly hard time. “He started to use drugs quite seriously,” Barbara 8 From a statement given at the launch of Murder Victims’ Families for Human Rights’ No Silence, No Shame project, Austin, Texas, October 27, 2005. 8 recalls, “and he certainly had other me that question: why?” Rosemary issues going on in his life besides remembers. “And there was really this one, but right at this time he no way to explain it. Who’s going got a tattoo on his leg that had to kill the people who killed Stan’s initials encircled by flames. Kelvin? Where does it end?” The execution had more of an Christina Lawson’s daughter, who impact on him than I had known.” was 10 years old at the time of her We open the discussion of the father’s execution, asked a similar effect of executions on children question: “They’re going to kill with this example of a young per- him because he killed somebody, son distant both geographically so when they kill him, who do we and genealogically from the exe- get to kill?” cuted person to make the point that the impact of an execution can Pam Crawford’s granddaughter extend farther than we imagine, Callie was 8 years old when Pam’s and can manifest itself in both brother, Ed Horsley, was executed obvious and less obvious ways. in Alabama. Callie is now 19, and Warren’s tattoo says, quite literally, Pam observes: “It’s amazing how “This event left a mark on me.” things can happen in a family, how Even though he didn’t know his it can be a generational thing, great-uncle directly, this teenager because all these years later my had to struggle with the execution’s granddaughter is going through a effect on the rest of his family and depression. I was amazed when I with the questions that such an talked to her doctor and he asked event inevitably raises. me who was executed in the fami- A child’s questions about the ly and how long has it been. I told death penalty can be deceptively him, and he said, ‘Did you know simple. Rosemary Malone remem- that she’s still affected by it?’” bers that after visiting her brother Pam explains that Callie still Kelvin on death row in California struggles to come to terms with the (Malone faced death sentences in execution: “She asks, if it’s wrong California and Missouri and was to kill somebody, which it is, then executed in Missouri in 1999), she how can it be right for the state to and her children saw a bumper kill?” Pam goes on to describe the sticker that read, “Why do we kill symptoms that her granddaughter people who kill people to show reported to her, which include that killing is wrong?” recurring nightmares. Callie told “My kids saw that and asked Pam Crawford’s brother, Ed Horsley, was executed in Alabama in 1996. “Around the time of the execution, my kids talked openly about their Uncle Ed, but then other kids at school began saying, ‘They should’ve killed him already!’ and other mean things. My kids started learning to keep it a secret because they were ashamed of the reaction they would get. They were ashamed to be connected to him, ashamed to be who they were.” Pam that she dreamed that “Uncle 9 Ed and I are just sitting at the table as a child, I was telling inside the prison, but I’m not a lit- him I’d see him back tle girl anymore, I’m a grown home, and I guess she woman, and I’ll be trying to reach kind of locked that in her for him and he’ll be running from mind, and then it never me. happened. He’s running to get behind that door that he used to go behind when the guards would come get him and put the handcuffs on him.” Pam continues: A group of children with a particular stake in the death penalty issue are those who are related both to the murder victim and to Desiree Babbitt’s father, Manny Babbitt, was executed in California in 1999. “I always felt like my father raised me from prison. I loved him and felt his love for me. There were a lot of secrets in the family, and although I knew my father was in prison, no one told me that he was facing a death sentence until I was 20 and the whole family was going to California to beg for his life before the pardon board. I spoke at the hearing and talked about what my father meant to me, and everyone seemed to be listening. I thought we had saved him, but we didn’t. Sometimes I think that if I had understood the truth earlier, I might have been able to do more. I wish people could understand how much it hurt me that he was executed.” 9 Associated Press, October 26, 2005. 10 She said one time she the convicted murderer, as in cases dreamed she was calling of domestic violence. Already him because she could see struggling to come to terms with him behind the prison the trauma of one parent’s death at walls, but there was a wall the hands of another, some of these between them and she children have then found them- couldn’t get to him. Now, selves having to plead with the this is a child who wasn’t state not to compound that trauma even born yet when Ed by executing the remaining parent. first went into prison. Her “If this execution is carried doctor wanted to know out, we’ll have two parents mur- how much she under- dered,” Rose Syriani said at a press stood, and I realized that conference in 2005, when the state there were some things she of North Carolina was preparing to had misunderstood as a execute Elias Syriani for the mur- child. When we went to der of his wife Theresa. Rose and visit my brother the last her three siblings had been chil- time, she heard me say dren at the time of the murder, and goodbye and say some- had testified against him at his thing about seeing him in trial. They remained estranged the next dimension – talk- from their father for many years, ing about heaven – and she but by 2005 each had found a way thought I meant we’d see to reconcile with him and were him back in Charlotte opposing his execution.9 [North Carolina, where the The Syrianis were no more family lived]. In her mind successful at stopping their father’s execution than Chris Kellett and dren has to date come more fre- Felicia Floyd had been four years quently from the anti-death penal- earlier, when they stood before the ty community than from the victim Georgia Pardon Board under simi- assistance community. In Marcus’s lar circumstances and said, “We case, it was two local anti-death beg you not to take our father’s life penalty activists, who were them- too.”10 While those in a position to selves family members of murder grant clemency to someone facing a victims, who served as his chief death sentence may not be swayed supporters during the execution by arguments about the effect of and its aftermath. Valuable as this the execution on the surviving chil- was, it raises the question of what dren, those concerned with victim formal help is available for children assistance cannot ignore the needs in families with intra-familial mur- of these survivors – which are per- der who are not lucky enough to haps especially acute when the come to the attention of informal children are still minors. advocates like these. Marcus Lawrie was 14 when the state of Delaware executed his The Handbook’s observation father. Seven years earlier, David about effects being passed from Lawrie had set fire to his house in a one generation to the next also drug-induced rage, killing his wife, suggests that children can feel the two of their children, and a neigh- impact even of family events that bor’s child. Marcus, now 21, says did not occur during their own that as horrific as this tragedy obvi- lifetimes. Antoinette Bosco was 12 ously was, he did not view the exe- when she learned that there had cution of his father as compensa- been an execution in her family: tion for his multiple losses: “I lost Charles Doran, the brother of my mom and sisters because of my Antoinette’s aunt by marriage, had dad, and that hurts, but you’ve got been executed in New York in to understand – by giving my 1928, just a few months before father the death penalty, you’re tak- Antoinette was born. “I was so ing my other parent from me.” affected by this killing when I It might seem that, among fam- heard of it as a young adolescent,” ilies of the executed, survivors who Antoinette recalls. She remembers are also related to the murder vic- trying to make sense of the death tim would be more easily recog- penalty in light of the command- nized as in need of assistance, but ment “thou shalt not kill,” and she in fact direct support for these chil- remembers learning how severely 10 Billie Jean Mayberry’s brother, Robert Coe, was executed in Tennessee in 2000. “You hear about the death penalty in the news, but you don’t really think about it until it affects you. There’s no way to describe the hurt my siblings and I had to go through when we watched our brother die.” Susannah Sheffer, “Unheard Voices,” Fellowship magazine, March/April 2003. 11 the execution had affected the rela- seeing asked her if there were any tives who lived through it: “I skeletons in the family’s closet. At learned that Charlie’s mother went that point, Janis began researching crazy afterward and never left the her grandfather’s case, and eventu- house. And I saw that my Aunt ally she became an outspoken Margee had never gotten over it. activist against the death penalty. She was a teenager at the time of But she still struggles with its per- her brother’s execution, and the sonal legacy: experience was a direct cause of the mental problems that plagued her later in her life.” this, but it’s very hard for me to Like Antoinette Bosco, Janis Gay talk about it. There are Janis Gay’s grandfather, Alexander Kels, was executed learned of the execution in her fam- nuances I don’t understand, in ily years after the fact. Janis’s mater- terms of how it affected me. I in California in 1924. “Although I never knew my grandfather and didn’t learn that he had been executed until I was 21, I felt that he was a member of my family and I wanted to understand him and understand the effect that his execution had had on all of us.” nal grandfather was executed in don’t want to sound whiny, but California in 1924, when Janis’s I can tell you that Mom’s inte- mother was a girl of 9. Janis was not rior life was pretty absorbing told how her grandfather died until to her. Helping me and my she was an adult of 21. Although she brother with our lives – that did not grow up with any conscious just wasn’t available. awareness of being related to some- would come home from school one who had been executed, she was telling what happened that affected by the impact that the exe- day, and Mom would get up cution and its attendant shame had and walk away. on her mother. We How far down the genera- “Mom would sit in the dark, tions does it go? I look at my smoking cigarettes at night,” Janis life: I’m not married, intimate remembers. “She saw me as a child relationships are difficult for and could see herself as a child, me. When an execution hap- what she went through. It brought it pens in a family – well, it’s vio- back. She never reconciled to it at lence that has shattered the all.” When Janis’s mother revealed family and you have to take the family’s secret years later, Janis care of it. Someone has to. still “got the message that I wasn’t supposed to talk about it after that. I wasn’t supposed to assume the burden.” It was another several years before a therapist Janis was 12 I feel like I’m a survivor of Conspiracy of Silence made me feel comfortable by supporting me. Unless someone Stressful life events seem to unleash a strong need for sharing in victims. However, following extreme traumatic events, victims may participate in the “conspiracy of silence” by not sharing their experiences and their aftermath. … Certain experiences are seldom revealed unless specifically asked about by another who is experienced as trustworthy and therefore as a potential source of support. (Handbook, p. 8) encourages you to do it, you won’t.” Exemplifying the Handbook’s observation that people who have suffered traumatic events are more likely to talk if they are explicitly encouraged and supported, Jonnie goes on to say that the No Silence, No Shame gathering, in which she was surrounded by others who had gone through a similar trauma, had an enormous effect on her: “To hear everybody who had similar experiences and similar feelings, that was a very powerful meeting. “I didn’t want to talk about it, I didn’t know how to talk about it,” And to hear how everybody’s been affected some kind of way.” recalls Jonnie Warner, whose Pam Crawford echoes Jonnie’s brother, Larry Griffin, was executed reflections about the value of the in Missouri in 1995. “It’s kind of Austin gathering: “I was in a place shameful to talk about it, because where I could really be me. I was how many people have that experi- not looked down upon because I ence?” Right away, Jonnie mentions loved my brother. I could finally the relative rarity of the experience just be open and tell the truth, just as reason to keep silent about it. be real. I came back with another She explains that while having an burst of energy and strength to go incarcerated family member is – on. I could talk to people who sadly – increasingly common could identify with what I was say- among people of color, having ing, because they had felt the same someone on death row, and then pain and the same hurt.” going through an execution, is “stigmatizing.” Bill Babbitt’s brother, Manny Babbitt, was executed in California in 1999. “The police promised me that my brother would get the help he needed. After they arrested Manny, an officer said to him, ‘You’re not going to go to the gas chamber or anything like that.’ I believed that. My mother believed it. We never really thought he would be executed, right up until the last half hour when I watched my brother be put to death at San Quentin. For the rest of my life I have to live with the fact that I turned my mentally ill brother in and that led to his death.” In addition to breaking silence by sharing their experiences with “Until I got involved with others who have gone through [local anti-death penalty organiza- something similar, some family tions], I couldn’t talk about the members have spoken publicly at death penalty. These organizations rallies and other such gatherings, 13 Stanley Allridge’s brothers Ronald and James Vernon Allridge were executed in Texas in 1995 and 2004. “I didn’t plan on being an activist, but I feel like I’m obligated to talk about the death penalty and what happened in our family.” or to classes, church groups, and brothers had been arrested: “I was conference audiences. Speaking in 7 years old, and that was the first these public venues has some of the time I’d seen my father cry. He same value as sharing with others in said, ‘Your brothers are in trouble.’ an intimate setting, but it also has But after that, it wasn’t really dis- the additional benefit of bringing cussed. We just started dealing private grief into the public arena with it.” and, in some sense, demanding that Stan and the two other surviv- one’s experience receive public ing Allridge brothers witnessed recognition. Jonnie Warner recalled Ron’s execution in 1995, when that the public ceremony at the No Stan had just graduated from high Silence, No Shame event, in which school. “I didn’t really believe it at participants placed roses in a vase all, until later,” he recalls. “When I in memory of their executed family was finally leaving the Walls Unit member and in memory of the and driving home, that’s when it murder victim, was a way for the hit me, that’s when the tears came. group to bring their grief to the But everybody dealt with it in our attention of others who might not own individual ways. We didn’t have previously been aware of it. talk about it at all, or we talked “[The ceremony] actually got about it vaguely, but not how we the attention and empathy of the felt about what we had seen. How other people right there in that do you talk about that? We never room,” Jonnie recalls. “Publicly really thought it was going to hap- grieving your loved one is different pen. It’s not like he was terminally because you want other people to ill. It’s a murder. You just don’t get know that you’re human and your ready for a murder.” people were human and you love them too.” Afterwards, Stan says, “I felt like my life had totally changed. I would be separated from other These days, Stanley Allridge is 14 individuals. I was forced into this comfortable speaking to large audi- state of manhood. ences about the executions of his death, witnessing a murder, is two older brothers, Ronald and something that’s totally different. I James, but when he was a young knew my life would be different – child, his family didn’t talk about I didn’t know how, but I knew.” Witnessing the way the death penalty had As the Handbook suggests, vic- touched their family. Stan remem- tims are unlikely to talk about their bers his father explaining that his experiences unless specifically asked, but now that Stan gets asked regularly, he has become an outspoken activist. “I had no idea people would be impacted by my story, problem of victims can be in obtaining acknowledgment that an offence has occurred. (Handbook, p. 9) would want to listen to me,” he says of his early forays into public Although executions are not speaking. “But now I feel like I’m yet universally recognized as abus- obligated to talk about it.” es of power, the fact of the offend- Like Stanley Allridge, Pat er being the state itself is clearly Seaborn feels obligated to talk relevant here. As we noted earlier, about the effect of executions on “the state” is a more ambiguous surviving family members. Pat’s perpetrator than an individual and cousin, Ron Spivey, was executed presents a unique challenge as sur- in Georgia in 2002, and although vivors try to come to terms with she was “scared to death” when she the taking of their loved one’s life. was first invited to address a Christina Lawson described how church group about her experi- her 10-year-old daughter, trying to ence, “it all came together, and peo- understand that her father’s death ple were on the edge of their seats was caused by “the state of Texas,” because they had never come in sometimes felt as though that contact with this.” encompassed everyone Christina Lawson’s husband, David Martinez, was executed in Texas in 2005. “I co-founded the group Victims of Texas to help survivors of murder victims and survivors of people who have been executed. We want there to be someone who can say ‘I understand’ and mean it.” she encountered: “She told me one day when she went to school, she felt When the Offender is the State itself like everyone was guilty, like she was walking around among murderers because the people of Texas Victims of abuse of power have particular difficulty in gaining recognition of the fact that they have been victimized. The essence of abuse of power is that it is committed by those who should be expected to protect the population. The shock and loneliness of victimization can be much greater for these victims. … Where the offender is the State itself, the principal had killed her father.” It may be tempting to dismiss this as a child’s confusion, but comments from the adult survivors, as well, suggest that sorting out one’s relationship to the state or “the system” after an execution in the family is not an easy process. “I have no trust in the system,” admits Rosemary Malone. “I just don’t have any faith anymore.” Ida Reid, whose brother James 15 Ida Reid’s brother, James Reid, was executed in Virginia in 2004. “Just before he was executed, he asked me to promise that I would never stop fighting. When I write or speak about the death penalty, it brings it all back, but I will keep doing it regardless of how it affects me, because it’s important that people understand.” was executed in Virginia in 2004, ing the lethal injection: “They have expressed similar disillusionment in different people responsible for all a way that also underscores the the different steps, so no one Handbook’s point about the confu- knows exactly who did it, but still sion that results when harm is – how do you do that?” caused by those who are expected Here again we are seeing the to protect. “I’d always believed in effort to come to terms with vic- the system,” Ida recalls. “I partici- timization occurring at the deliber- pated in it, did my part. But now I ate hands of another. Though the don’t believe in it, and that’s really family understands that the state is sad.” Ida’s disbelief comes not only technically responsible for, or from the fact of her brother’s execu- authorizing, the execution, it is dif- tion but also from the events lead- ficult – perhaps especially for those ing up to it: “He had an attorney who directly witness the execution who slept during the hearings. The – not to wonder about the individ- lead attorney wasn’t qualified, and uals who actually cause the death. later he was disbarred for lying. We As Beatrice Coleman also didn’t have an actual trial because noted, a pending execution also everyone said that pleading him puts the family in the odd position guilty was the only way to save his of planning for a death that will life. Then later they said they never occur said that.” Beatrice described the process of by deliberate means. The greater one’s previous sense writing and submitting her broth- of connection to the state or the er’s obituary before the execution government, the greater the feeling had occurred. Is an execution of betrayal after an execution may more like death from a terminal ill- be. Bobby Fitzsimmons serves in the ness – because the process is pro- U.S. Navy and, after his brother tracted and the family theoretically James Colburn’s execution, told has time to prepare for the death – reporters, “The country I fight for or more like murder, because the just murdered my brother.” actual death is sudden and caused by others? Many of the family Beatrice 16 Coleman, whose members we interviewed clearly brother Andy Smith was executed struggled with these questions, in South Carolina in 1998, said that and regardless of their effort in one of the hardest aspects of the some cases to compare the experi- experience was confronting the ence to dying of an illness, the dif- people responsible for administer- ferences loomed large. As Wendy Bradley, another daughter of Jerry defend him, but also felt such McWee, who was executed in shame that I wanted to agree.” South Carolina, put it, “My grand- Years later, when Melanie was mother wanted me to come with a young woman, she requested her to look at caskets, and I kept time off from work in order to wit- putting it off, because it felt kind of ness her uncle’s execution. “That morbid, to make all those arrange- was a really difficult thing to do. I ments for someone who was still had to lie and say I had a death in healthy and breathing and had no my family – but in fact, I hadn’t yet physical conditions. It wasn’t had that death.” something that we should be doing.” Pam Crawford faced such direct condemnation around the time of her brother’s execution that Family members’ difficulty in she ended up leaving a job she had gaining acknowledgment that an loved. A housekeeper in the dor- offense has occurred can affect their mitories of the University of North relationships with employers and Carolina, Pam had been close to others outside the family. Rather the students and often invited than being treated with the kind of them to her home for meals. understanding or dispensation that When she came to work after her might be accorded others who have brother’s execution, she was con- gone through a traumatic loss, fam- fronted by a note on the closet ilies of the executed often find door in one of the dorm rooms; it themselves hiding their experience read “You’re a murderer.” Clearly or being ostracized for it. Pam was not being responded to as Melanie Hebert was about to the survivor of a trauma but enter high school when her uncle, instead as in some sense indistin- Spencer Goodman, was charged guishable from her brother who with capital murder. Spencer, the had committed the crime. adoptive son of Melanie’s paternal “It wasn’t just the students, it grandparents, was only seven years was my co-workers too,” Pam older than Melanie and felt to her recalls. “After three weeks, it was more like a brother than an uncle. too much. I had to leave. There “Everyone at school knew we were times when I felt real guilty, were related,” she remembers. “I like I had actually done something had such a hard time in high – but the only thing I was guilty of school because of it. I was taunted: was loving my brother.” Melanie Hebert’s uncle, Spencer Goodman, was executed in Texas in 2000. “I vividly remember when Spencer was sentenced to death. It was my dad’s birthday and we were all gathered at my parents’ house when we heard it announced on the news. I had a physical reaction; I just felt so sick. I remember everyone scattering to different parts of the house, nobody talking about it but everybody having to process it by themselves.” ‘I know who you are.’ I wanted to 17 The Impact of Inequitable Application T hus far, we have focused on demonstrating that family members of the executed feel the impact of victimization in the ways that the Handbook on Justice for Victims delineates, and thus deserve recognition as victims according to the Declaration of Basic Principles of Justice for Victims of Crime and Abuse of Power. We turn now to an exploration of how inequitable application of the death penalty further affects the surviving families. We observed earlier that by international norms, the death penalty itself is increasingly viewed as a human rights violation. Meanwhile, various aspects of the application of the death penalty in the United States have been repeatedly identified as violations of international agreements – in particular, the arbitrary and discriminatory imposition of death sentences and the execution of people with mental illness or mental disabili11 ties. Our interviews suggest that these additional violations add to the impact of the death penalty on surviving family members. Without taking up the entire issue of inequitable application of the death penalty, we will review what family members of the executed report about how these issues affect their overall experience of a death sentence and an execution. 11 Arbitrary and Discriminatory In a report presented to the UN Human Rights Committee regarding the U.S.’s failure to comply with aspects of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, Sandra Babcock, writing for the National Coalition of Criminal Defense Lawyers, asserted that “there is ample evidence that death sentences in the United States are imposed arbitrarily and on the basis of impermissible factors such as race and poverty. Moreover, there are no uniform standards to guide the discretion of state prosecutors in seeking the death penalty.” For family members, the belief that race and/or lack of financial resources played a role in their loved one’s death sentence can deepen their sense of victimization and make it even more difficult to come to terms with what happened. “How would things have been different if we’d had money?” Jonnie Warner wonders, ten years after her brother Larry Griffin was executed in Missouri: The police came to the door, and Larry went with them to go clear his name. He never came home. I guess when you go to get an attorney, that’s when it starts to dawn on you: they’re saying prices that are more than you make in a year. That in itself says that this is real serious. The lawyer we got said he didn’t have any death penalty experience but he would do the best he could. I do believe that he did the best he could with his experience, but he didn’t have any idea what the court experience would be like for an inexperienced lawyer trying a murder case. He was outmatched in experience and resources. Though Jonnie and her family hold no animosity toward the inexperienced attorney, it is hard to imagine how they can avoid making the connection between their inability to pay more for Larry’s defense and his resulting death sentence. Whether they direct this anger outward at the inequitable defense system or inward toward their family and its resources, they are clearly suffering an additional burden. In Larry Griffin’s case, this burden is especially acute because of doubt that he was guilty of the crime for which he was executed – doubt so serious that his case is one of only four current cases nationwide in which the convicted murderer’s innocence is being investigated after the execution has already been carried out.12 Race may be an impermissible factor in the decision about whether to These constitute violations of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the Convention for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, for example. 12 In 2005, after a year of investigation, the NAACP Legal Defense Fund issued a report raising substantial doubt that Larry Griffin was guilty of the murder for which he had been convicted and executed. The prosecutor’s office agreed to re-open the case, and an investigation is currently in process. 18 seek or impose the death penalty, but family members report hearing overt comments and predictions telling them that race is indeed a factor. Rosemary Malone recalls the prosecutor, during the penalty phase of her [biracial] brother’s trial, saying, “You’ve created a mixed breed, this is what happens. This is what you get – you get an animal.” Rosemary remembers that each time the prosecutor referred to Kelvin Malone as “an animal” or “a monster,” Rosemary responded by saying “my brother,” and one can easily imagine how the repeated effort to insist on her brother’s humanity, and to counter the racism in the prosecutor’s remarks, added to Rosemary’s burden as a family member of a person facing a death sentence. Pam Crawford remembers that her family had very little understanding of the criminal justice process when her younger brother Ed Horsley was arrested, and when they were told that, because of his race and the race of the victim, he would surely get the death penalty, they believed that the police officers were talking about a legal determination that had already been made: When the investigators came out to talk to us, they said, “You know what this means – he’s in Alabama, they killed a white girl?” I said “No, I just know murder is wrong.” The investigator said, “It means that they’re gonna execute them.” I said, “Execute? They’re just youngsters.” He said, “Ma’am, they’re gonna execute them.” They hadn’t been found guilty at this point, the case was probably about two days old at that time, but it was like they’d already been convicted. I wasn’t familiar with it all, so I was just dumbfounded, I hardly knew exactly what that meant. And my grandmother and my mother, not being educated in that area, not knowing anything about an execution, were just at a loss: what do we expect? People would try to explain it to her, saying there would be a trial first. My grandmother said no, because the investigator already told us it was going to happen. She believed that the investigator was telling her what had been decided. She said, “How do we know they won’t just hang him? How do we know it won’t just happen?” Mental Illness and Mental Disability Bill Babbitt was also unfamiliar with the criminal justice process when he agreed to turn his mentally ill brother Manny Babbitt over to the police because he suspected him of being responsible for the murder of an elderly woman in their California town. “They promised me that Manny would get the help he needed,” Bill recalls. But instead of getting help, Manny – who had been diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia and post-traumatic stress disorder following his two tours of duty in Vietnam – was sentenced to death and later executed. “I wish we had been able to get Manny the help he needed,” Bill says now. “I wish that as a society we would devote our resources to treating people like Manny instead of imposing the death penalty.” One member’s mental illness affects an entire family. When relatives struggle repeatedly, and unsuccessfully, to obtain proper treatment, the burden on the family is already considerable. When the failure to secure treatment results in the family member committing a crime and then being executed, the harm to the entire family is tremendously increased. Lois and Ken Robison have publicly told the story of their efforts to get treatment for their son Larry: Larry was diagnosed as a paranoid schizophrenic at the age of 21. Our family tried in vain to get him proper treatment. Mental health professionals told us that he was not well and would get worse without treatment, but hospitals routinely discharged him after 30-day stays because he was “not violent” and they “needed the bed.” We were told that if he became violent, he could get the long-term treatment that everyone agreed he needed. Our son’s first and only act of violence was to kill five people. Despite his well-documented history of mental illness, he was found sane and sentenced to die. The state of Texas executed him in 2000. How can a modern, civi- 19 lized society choose to exterminate its ill citizens rather than treat them?13 Tina Duroy’s story is tragically similar. Tina’s brother James Colburn was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia at age 14, and had been in and out of hospitals throughout the remainder of his teenage years. “When he turned 18, he was no longer covered by the family’s insurance,” Tina explains. “My grandparents drained their entire retirement, their savings, but when they ran out of money there was no hospital that would take him without insurance. Texas has no statefunded mental facility.” When James was arrested and charged with murder, Tina says that she had the possibility of a death sentence “in the back of my mind, but I didn’t seriously think they would put someone with such an extensive medical history to death. It was the prosecutor’s first capital murder case, and after my brother’s execution I sent him a card saying ‘Congratulations; I hope you never have mental illness in your family.’” Tina’s bitterness was intensified by the toll that her brother’s death sentence took on her entire family. “My mother couldn’t face it,” Tina recalls. “She probably blamed herself, even though she couldn’t do any more than she did.” Tina’s mother died two years before James’s execution; Tina and several other family members witnessed the execution in 2004. Tina says that she still has flashbacks of the event, and continually 13 questions why her brother could not have received the treatment he needed to prevent both his crime and his execution. “I don’t understand how they can execute mentally ill people when they don’t try to treat them first,” she says. “Our police, our lawyers, our judges need to be educated about mental illness before they make the decisions they do.” The question of whether a criminal murder, and later an execution, might have been prevented by adequate treatment also haunts family members of people who have mental disabilities as a result of brain injury. Ida Reid, for example, explains that although the family knew that her brother James suffered brain damage as a result of an injury years earlier, they were not aware of the extent of the damage until much later, after he had been arrested and charged with capital murder. Ida says: He had been in a terrible car crash, and I knew that that had affected him, but I didn’t know to what extent until I saw the report that he had bone missing from the right temporal lobe and that’s the part of the brain that controls impulses. And it’s when he was drinking that the real lack of impulse control came out. He was fairly normal if he didn’t drink, but once he drank it’s like he became another person. And when you’re poor, it makes a difference because you can’t get the services that you truly need. Though international human rights standards prohibit the execution of people suffering from mental illness and mental disabilities such as those resulting from a brain injury, such executions have not yet been ruled unconstitutional in the United States. In contrast, a 2002 U.S. Supreme Court decision did rule that the death penalty for people with mental retardation is unconstitutional – a ruling that unfortunately came too late for Grace Bolden’s son Cornelius Singleton, who was executed in Alabama in 1992 despite having an IQ of between 55 and 65 and being convicted on the basis of a signed confession that he had been unable to read. “Even before they arrested him, the DA said they were going to give him the death penalty, and they didn’t have any evidence to connect him with the murder,” Grace recalls. “Neal didn’t understand what was going on.” Neal’s death sentence and execution took an enormous toll on Grace; she lost her house trying to pay for his defense and she suffers from ongoing physical ailments in the aftermath. Families who have struggled but been unable to secure appropriate help for a mentally ill or disabled family member suffer the dual anguish of regret and betrayal. They wonder if the tragedies of murder and execution could have been prevented had treatment been available. Compounding this regret is the knowledge that “the system,” rather than being a source of help, ultimately became the agent of their loved one’s violent death. Ken and Lois Robison in Not in Our Name: Murder Victims’ Families Speak Out Against the Death Penalty (Murder Victims’ Families for Reconciliation, 2003). 20 Conclusion: Out Of The Shadows P at Seaborn, whose cousin Ron Spivey was executed in Georgia in 2002, describes families of the executed as “shadow victims.” Susan Sharp’s book refers to them as “hidden victims.” An editorial in the Austin (Texas) American-Statesman titled “The Families Left Behind” says, “We hardly give them a second thought – if we notice them at all.” Until very recently, families of the executed have been so unrecognized that it would not even be accurate to say that their needs have been ignored. It is more appropriate to say that their needs have been unimagined. As Irene Cartwright said earlier in this report, most people never even consider that individuals sentenced to death have families, much less consider the impact on those families. Our goal is to bring family members of the executed out of the shadows. The harm that families of the executed suffer has distinct characteristics. But at its core, it is more like than unlike the harm suffered by any people whose family members’ lives have been deliberately taken. We shine light on this harm so that the sufferers may finally receive the recognition and assistance they deserve, and so that discussion of the death penalty may include the question: Can any perceived benefits of executions be justified by the new group of victims they create? 21 Appendix 1: Recommendations In the preceding pages, we have argued that family members of the executed ought to be recognized as victims under the Declaration of Basic Principles of Justice for Victims of Crime and Abuse of Power and that recognition and assistance ought to be offered to this group as they are to any other victims. Our specific recommendations are as follows: To educators, we recommend the development of trainings and materials for teachers and school counselors about the impact of the death penalty on children in families of the accused. Such trainings and materials would aim to raise awareness about this issue and better prepare those who encounter children suffering in the aftermath of a family member’s death sentence or execution. To the United Nations, we recommend that the Office of the High Commissioner on Human Rights (OHCHR) conduct a study of family members of the executed and include the study’s findings in the OHCHR’s annual report to the Secretary General of the United Nations and the United Nations Human Rights Committee. We recommend that the study be undertaken in countries that have not yet abolished the death penalty and in countries that have abolished it but still have surviving family members of people who were executed. We also recommend that, after taking inventory of the resources and support services available to such families, the OHCHR urge passage of laws that recognize family members of the executed as victims of abuse of power who are entitled to support and reparation. To child welfare advocates, particularly those who are developing services to address the needs of children of incarcerated parents and children who have suffered a violent loss in their family, we recommend that trainings and literature include specific information and guidance about children in families of the executed, whose needs and concerns are in many ways distinct. To lawmakers, we recommend the passage of statutes that would give legal recognition to families of the executed as victims deserving of access to assistance and support. For example, in the U.S., laws now make it possible for relatives of murder victims to receive compensation to help with the costs of medical care, mental health counseling, and funerals; we recommend that families of the executed be eligible for this kind of assistance as well. To religious leaders and counselors, we recommend that people in the faith community recognize the potential presence of families of the executed within their congregations, work to identify the needs of such families, and develop outreach and support programs as appropriate. To victim advocates and victim assistants, we recommend that family members of the executed be recognized as victims who may be in need of advocacy and assistance, and we encourage the development of a protocol for making programs, services, and other forms of help available to these families. Although advocates and assistants may need to interact with the criminal justice system in order to identify and reach out to families of the defendant in capital cases, we recommend that such advocates and assistants be independent rather than under the auspices of either the prosecutor’s or the defender’s offices. 22 To mental health professionals, we recommend that the short- and long-term psychological effects of an execution in the family be included in literature and training directed at social workers, clinical psychologists, trauma specialists, and others who might come in contact with such families. We also recommend that witnessing executions be recognized as a “gateway” criterion for post-traumatic stress disorder. To academic scholars, we recommend that research be conducted about the long-term effects of executions on the defendants’ family members, with particular investigation into the effects on children. While there exists a substantial body of research concluding that the effects of the death penalty on surviving families are devastating, a large-scale longitudinal study has not yet been undertaken. Further research into the long-term effects of executions on the surviving family members, particularly on the children in the family, will inform the policies and practices of educators, child welfare advocates, and mental health professionals, as we have suggested above. Appendix 2: List of Family Members Our deepest gratitude to all the individuals whose stories informed the writing of this report: Barbara Allen (Alberta, Canada), niece of Stanley Faulder, executed in Texas in 1999 Stanley Allridge (Texas), brother of Ronald Allridge, executed in Texas in 1995, and James Allridge, executed in Texas in 2004 Bill Babbitt (California), brother of Manny Babbitt, executed in California in 1999 Desiree Babbitt (Rhode Island), daughter of Manny Babbitt Rena and Ireland Beazley (Texas), parents of Napoleon Beazley, executed in Texas in 2002 Grace Bolden (Alabama), mother of Cornelius Singleton, executed in Alabama in 2002 Antoinette Bosco (Connecticut), niece of Charles Doran, executed in New York in 1928 Wendy Bradley (South Carolina), daughter of Jerry McWee, executed in South Carolina in 2004 Irene Cartwright-Rekitzke (Illinois), mother of Richard Cartwright, executed in Texas in 2005 Frances Coe (Tennessee), sister-in-law of Robert Coe, executed in Tennessee in 2000 Jimmie Coe (Tennessee), brother of Robert Coe Beatrice Coleman (South Carolina), brother of Andy Smith, executed in South Carolina in 1998 Calvin Crawford (North Carolina), brother-in-law of Ed Horsley, executed in Alabama in 1996 Pamela Crawford (North Carolina), sister of Ed Horsley Yvonne Delvecchio (Illinois), mother of George Delvecchio, executed in Illinois in 1995 Bonnie DeShields (Tennessee), sister of Robert Coe, executed in Tennessee in 2000 Tina Duroy (Texas), sister of James Colburn, executed in Texas in 2004 Felicia Floyd (Georgia), daughter of Fred Gilreath, executed in Georgia in 2001 Jim Fowler (Oklahoma), father of Mark Fowler, executed in Oklahoma in 2001 Janis Gay (California), granddaughter of Alexander Kels, executed in California in 1924 Melanie Hebert (Texas), niece of Spencer Goodman, executed in Texas in 2000 Sonia Jacobs (Ireland), wife of Jesse Tafero, executed in Florida in 1990 Chris Kellett (Georgia), son of Fred Gilreath, executed in Georgia in 2001 Marcus Lawrie (Delaware), son of David Lawrie, executed in Delaware in 1999 Christina Lawson (Texas), wife of David Martinez, executed in Texas in 2005 Rosemary Malone (California), sister of Kelvin Malone, executed in Missouri in 1999 Billie Jean Mayberry (Tennessee), sister of Robert Coe, executed in Tennessee in 2000 Celia McWee (Georgia), mother of Jerry McWee, executed in South Carolina in 2004 Misty McWee (South Carolina), daughter of Jerry McWee Robert Meeropol (Massachusetts), son of Ethel and Julius Rosenberg, executed by the federal government (in New York) in 1953 Ida Reid (Virginia), sister of James Reid, executed in Virginia in 2004 Ken and Lois Robison (Texas), parents of Larry Robison, executed in Texas in 2000 Pat Seaborn (Georgia), cousin of Ron Spivey, executed in Georgia in 2002 Bill Vaught (Texas), brother of John Wheat, executed in Texas in 2001 Jonnie Warner (Missouri), sister of Larry Griffin, executed in Missouri in 1995 We also want to express our gratitude to those family members of the executed who have shared their stories with us but do not feel comfortable having their names listed publicly. 23 Appendix 3: Declaration of Basic Principles of Justice for Victims of Crime and Abuse of Power Adopted by General Assembly resolution 40/34 of 29 November 1985 A. Victims of Crime 1. “Victims” means persons who, individually or collectively, have suffered harm, including physical or mental injury, emotional suffering, economic loss or substantial impairment of their fundamental rights, through acts or omissions that are in violation of criminal laws operative within Member States, including those laws proscribing criminal abuse of power. 2. A person may be considered a victim, under this Declaration, regardless of whether the perpetrator is identified, apprehended, prosecuted or convicted and regardless of the familial relationship between the perpetrator and the victim. The term “victim” also includes, where appropriate, the immediate family or dependants of the direct victim and persons who have suffered harm in intervening to assist victims in distress or to prevent victimization. 3. The provisions contained herein shall be applicable to all, without distinction of any kind, such as race, colour, sex, age, language, religion, nationality, political or other opinion, cultural beliefs or practices, property, birth or family status, ethnic or social origin, and disability. Access to justice and fair treatment 4. Victims should be treated with compassion and respect for their dignity. They are entitled to access to the mechanisms of justice and to prompt redress, as provided for by national legislation, for the harm that they have suffered. 5. Judicial and administrative mechanisms should be established and strengthened where necessary to enable victims to obtain redress through formal or informal procedures that are expeditious, fair, inexpensive and accessible. Victims should be informed of their rights in seeking redress through such mechanisms. 6. The responsiveness of judicial and administrative processes to the needs of victims should be facilitated by: (a) Informing victims of their role and the scope, timing and progress of the proceedings and of the disposition of their cases, especially where serious crimes are involved and where they have requested such information; 24 (b) Allowing the views and concerns of victims to be presented and considered at appropriate stages of the proceedings where their personal interests are affected, without prejudice to the accused and consistent with the relevant national criminal justice system; (c) Providing proper assistance to victims throughout the legal process; (d) Taking measures to minimize inconvenience to victims, protect their privacy, when necessary, and ensure their safety, as well as that of their families and witnesses on their behalf, from intimidation and retaliation; (e) Avoiding unnecessary delay in the disposition of cases and the execution of orders or decrees granting awards to victims. 7. Informal mechanisms for the resolution of disputes, including mediation, arbitration and customary justice or indigenous practices, should be utilized where appropriate to facilitate conciliation and redress for victims. Restitution 8. Offenders or third parties responsible for their behaviour should, where appropriate, make fair restitution to victims, their families or dependants. Such restitution should include the return of property or payment for the harm or loss suffered, reimbursement of expenses incurred as a result of the victimization, the provision of services and the restoration of rights. 9. Governments should review their practices, regulations and laws to consider restitution as an available sentencing option in criminal cases, in addition to other criminal sanctions. 10. In cases of substantial harm to the environment, restitution, if ordered, should include, as far as possible, restoration of the environment, reconstruction of the infrastructure, replacement of community facilities and reimbursement of the expenses of relocation, whenever such harm results in the dislocation of a community. 11. Where public officials or other agents acting in an official or quasi-official capacity have violated national criminal laws, the victims should receive restitution from the State whose officials or agents were responsible for the harm inflicted. In cases where the Government under whose authority the victimizing act or omission occurred is no longer in existence, the State or Government successor in title should provide restitution to the victims. 16. Police, justice, health, social service and other personnel concerned should receive training to sensitize them to the needs of victims, and guidelines to ensure proper and prompt aid. Compensation B. Victims of Abuse of Power 12. When compensation is not fully available from the offender or other sources, States should endeavour to provide financial compensation to: (a) Victims who have sustained significant bodily injury or impairment of physical or mental health as a result of serious crimes; (b) The family, in particular dependants of persons who have died or become physically or mentally incapacitated as a result of such victimization. 13. The establishment, strengthening and expansion of national funds for compensation to victims should be encouraged. Where appropriate, other funds may also be established for this purpose, including in those cases where the State of which the victim is a national is not in a position to compensate the victim for the harm. Assistance 14. Victims should receive the necessary material, medical, psychological and social assistance through governmental, voluntary, community-based and indigenous means. 15. Victims should be informed of the availability of health and social services and other relevant assistance and be readily afforded access to them. 17. In providing services and assistance to victims, attention should be given to those who have special needs because of the nature of the harm inflicted or because of factors such as those mentioned in paragraph 3 above. 18. “Victims” means persons who, individually or collectively, have suffered harm, including physical or mental injury, emotional suffering, economic loss or substantial impairment of their fundamental rights, through acts or omissions that do not yet constitute violations of national criminal laws but of internationally recognized norms relating to human rights. 19. States should consider incorporating into the national law norms proscribing abuses of power and providing remedies to victims of such abuses. In particular, such remedies should include restitution and/or compensation, and necessary material, medical, psychological and social assistance and support. 20. States should consider negotiating multilateral international treaties relating to victims, as defined in paragraph 18. 21. States should periodically review existing legislation and practices to ensure their responsiveness to changing circumstances, should enact and enforce, if necessary, legislation proscribing acts that constitute serious abuses of political or economic power, as well as promoting policies and mechanisms for the prevention of such acts, and should develop and make readily available appropriate rights and remedies for victims of such acts. 25 Appendix 4: Excerpts from the Universal Declaration of Human Rights Adopted and proclaimed by General Assembly resolution 217 A (III) of 10 December 1948 PREAMBLE Whereas recognition of the inherent dignity and of the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family is the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world, Whereas disregard and contempt for human rights have resulted in barbarous acts which have outraged the conscience of mankind, and the advent of a world in which human beings shall enjoy freedom of speech and belief and freedom from fear and want has been proclaimed as the highest aspiration of the common people, Whereas it is essential, if man is not to be compelled to have recourse, as a last resort, to rebellion against tyranny and oppression, that human rights should be protected by the rule of law, Whereas it is essential to promote the development of friendly relations between nations, Whereas the peoples of the United Nations have in the Charter reaffirmed their faith in fundamental human rights, in the dignity and worth of the human person and in the equal rights of men and women and have determined to promote social progress and better standards of life in larger freedom, Whereas Member States have pledged themselves to achieve, in co-operation with the United Nations, the promotion of universal respect for and observance of human rights and fundamental freedoms, 26 Whereas a common understanding of these rights and freedoms is of the greatest importance for the full realization of this pledge, Now, Therefore THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY proclaims THIS UNIVERSAL DECLARATION OF HUMAN RIGHTS as a common standard of achievement for all peoples and all nations, to the end that every individual and every organ of society, keeping this Declaration constantly in mind, shall strive by teaching and education to promote respect for these rights and freedoms and by progressive measures, national and international, to secure their universal and effective recognition and observance, both among the peoples of Member States themselves and among the peoples of territories under their jurisdiction. Article 3. Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person. Article 5. No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment. Murder Victims’ Families for Human Rights Board of Directors PRESIDENT Bud Welch Oklahoma Louise Arbour Office of the High Commissioner on Human Rights Palais Wilson Geneva, Switzerland CHAIR Brian Roberts Washington, D.C. December 10, 2006 VICE-CHAIR Tamara Chikunova Tashkent, Uzbekistan TREASURER Vicki Schieber Maryland Bill Babbitt California Jennifer Bishop-Jenkins Illinois Rev. Walter Everett Pennsylvania Bill Jenkins Illinois Toshi Kazama New York Robert Meeropol Massachusetts Bill Pelke Alaska Sr. Helen Prejean Louisiana Bonnita Spikes Maryland Executive Director Robert Renny Cushing Program Staff Kate Lowenstein, Esq. Susannah Sheffer 2161 Massachusetts Avenue Cambridge, MA 02140 Dear High Commissioner Arbour: We respectfully submit to you a copy of Creating More Victims: How Executions Hurt the Families Left Behind, a report published by Murder Victims’ Families for Human Rights and released on International Human Rights Day 2006. The report, which grows out of the No Silence, No Shame project of Murder Victims’ Families for Human Rights, presents the voices and experiences of three dozen surviving family members of people who have been executed in the United States. Through analysis of their testimony, the report demonstrates that surviving family members of executed persons are victims as defined by the Declaration of Basic Principles of Justice for Victims of Crime and Abuse of Power. As you will see, the report contains specific recommendations, and we draw your attention in particular to the recommendation that the Office of the High Commissioner on Human Rights conduct a study of family members of the executed and include the study’s findings in the OHCHR’s annual report to the Secretary General of the United Nations and the United Nations Human Rights Committee. Although we have taken an initial look at the issue by interviewing a small group of family members of the executed in the U.S., we believe the impact of the death penalty on families of the executed is an issue of sufficient concern to the international human rights community that it merits a more comprehensive study worldwide. Such a study is consistent with the OHCHR’s mandate to protect and promote human rights for all and to lead the international human rights movement by acting as a moral authority and voice for victims. We ask you now to take the lead in recognizing the victimization that families of the executed experience, undertaking further investigation of the issue, and recommending specific ways to redress, through support and reparations, the harm that families of the executed have endured. I am hopeful that MVFHR and the OHCHR can work together to bring recognition to these previously hidden victims. Sincerely, Renny Cushing Executive Director __________________________________________________________ phone 617-491-9600 www.murdervictimsfamilies.org DC Office: 2611 Washington Avenue, Chevy Chase MD 20815 Murder Victims’ Families for Human Rights (MVFHR) is an international, non-governmental organization of family members of victims of criminal murder, terrorist killings, state executions, extrajudicial assassinations, and “disappearances” working to oppose the death penalty from a human rights perspective. Board of Directors: Bud Welch (President), Brian Roberts (Chair), Tamara Chikunova (Vice-Chair), Vicki Schieber (Treasurer), Bill Babbitt, Jennifer Bishop-Jenkins, Rev. Walter Everett, Bill Jenkins, Toshi Kazama, Robert Meeropol, Bill Pelke, Sr. Helen Prejean, Bonnita Spikes Staff: Renny Cushing (Executive Director), Susannah Sheffer, Kate Lowenstein MVFHR is a tax-exempt 501(c)3 organization. Contributions to MVFHR are deductible on the donor's U.S. federal income tax. Federal tax identification number 11-3725424 Murder Victims Families for Human Rights is a member of the World Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty, the World Society of Victimology, the U.S. Human Rights Network, the National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty, and the National Organization for Victim Assistance. We are grateful to the following foundations for their support of MVFHR’s No Silence, No Shame: Organizing Families of the Executed project: Grassroots Exchange Fund, Lifespark, the Maverick Lloyd Foundation, MCADP Fund, the Neighbors in Need Fund of the United Church of Christ Justice and Witness Ministries, the Unitarian Universalist Fund for a Just Society, and U.S. Human Rights Network. For more information about human rights, the death penalty, and victimization: ACLU Capital Punishment Project www.aclu.org/capital/index.html American Bar Association www.abanet.org American Friends Service Committee www.afsc.org Amnesty International USA www.aiusa.org Center for Constitutional Rights www.ccr-ny.org/ Comunit di Sant'Egidio www.santegidio.org/ Death Penalty Information Center www.deathpenaltyinfo.org ECPM http://www.abolition.fr/ecpm/ Equal Justice USA www.ejusa.org FIDH International Federation for Human Rights www.fidh.org International Victimology Website www.victimology.nl Journey of Hope...from Violence to Healing www.journeyofhope.org Justice Project www.thejusticeproject.org Murder Victims’ Families for Reconciliation www.mvfr.org NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund www.naacpldf.org National Center for Victims of Crime www.ncvc.org National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty www.ncadp.org National Organization for Victim Assistance www.try-nova.org Penal Reform International http://www.penalreform.org/ Southern Center for Human Rights www.schr.org UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights www.ohchr.org US Human Rights Network www.ushrnetwork.org World Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty www.worldcoalition.org World Society of Victimology www.world-society-victimology.de/wsv/index.aspx MVFHR 2161 Massachusetts Avenue Cambridge MA 02140 USA www.mvfhr.org 617-491-9600 MVFHR 2161 Massachusetts Avenue • Cambridge MA 02140 USA www.mvfhr.org • 617-491-9600 A report from Murder Victims’ Families for Human Rights with a foreword from Amnesty International USA