Victims’ Families Voices Heard in Connecticut

A recent Associated Press article highlighted the important role that murder victims’ family members played in last week’s passage of the death penalty repeal bill in Connecticut. Nearly 180 relatives of crime victims urged their legislators to repeal the death penalty by sharing their stories in private meetings with them, organizing petition drives, and speaking out at news conferences.

Although it is unusual to have such a large number of murder victims’ families involved in a repeal campaign, victims have been and continue to be an important part of abolition efforts throughout the country.  Speaking from their own experiences, these families find that seeking the death penalty is a long, painful, and uncertain process that only prolongs their suffering. It also diverts millions of dollars that could be better spent on needed support services for victims’ families, as well as on resources to help solve murder cases.

As other states move closer to repeal, we are hopeful that lawmakers will not only consider the extreme costs, risk of innocence, and unfairness of the death penalty, but will also listen carefully to those most affected by murder and weigh the variety of concerns articulated by these families.

(Photo: Victoria Coward, Taila Levine and Winston Levine, the mother, sister and father respectively of New Haven homicide victim Tyler Coward (pictured as baby) attended a press conference to show their opposition to the death penalty. Brad Horrigan/New Haven Register) .

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