Victim’s Families Sign On

If you have lost a loved one to murder, you bring an authority to the death penalty debate because of your direct experience with the criminal justice system. What did you need from the system? And what did you get? We respect your opinion because you have been through it.

If you are able to be involved in the movement for repeal or reform – or if you support the death penalty but would like to begin a dialog about the issue – your voice is needed and your perspective is welcome. Please join us.

SIGN-ON LETTER to

REPEAL THE DEATH PENALTY

for Murder Victims’ Families

Each of us has lost a family member to murder. At a moment none of us could have predicted or prepared for, tragedy robbed from us children, parents, spouses, brothers and sisters, and other family members. Our direct experiences with the criminal justice system and struggling with grief have led us all to the same conclusion: Colorado’s death penalty fails victims’ families.

We never asked to be in this position, and would do anything to change it. We realize, however, that nothing can erase the loss that a senseless act of violence brought into our lives. But we can honor the memory of our loved ones and other families who may face tragedy by working for effective responses to violence.

The reality of the death penalty is that it drags on for decades. In Colorado, only one person has been executed in the last forty years. Victims’ families in capital cases go back to court for years on end where the press replays the details of the crime again and again. The result is that the defendant is turned into a celebrity while the victim’s family waits for a punishment that never comes. This system burdens the vast majority of cases that don’t result in a death sentence.

The death penalty is said to be reserved for “particularly heinous murders.” We have difficulty understanding this position. The implication is that other murders are “ordinary”. From experience, we can tell you that to victims’ families, every murder is heinous. As the state hangs onto our broken death penalty system, it wastes millions of dollars that could go toward much-needed victims’ services. Instead of investing millions of dollars into a tiny percentage of capital cases, the state should invest in services that would benefit all victims.

As lawmakers consider whether to keep or end Colorado’s death penalty, we urge them to make the choice that best serves the interests of victims’ families. We hope they will conclude what we have: that the death penalty fails victims’ families. We urge them to repeal Colorado’s death penalty.