The Myth of Closure

An article entitled “The Myth of Closure” in the newly released Murder Victims’ Families for Human Rights‘ Fall 2012/Winter 2013 newsletter features a great interview with Jody Lynne Madeira, author of Killing McVeigh: The Death Penalty and the Myth of Closure. In it, Madeira reflects on her interviews with 13 people whose family members were killed in the Oklahoma City bombing and 20 who were survivors of the bombing.

Madeira explains that the idea that the death penalty provides closure for victims’ families is a fairly new concept that has been perpetuated in the media and used as justification for executions over the last couple of decades and doesn’t necessarily reflect how many victims feel.

“As I have listened to murder victims’ family members, I have heard a pushback against that common understanding of the term [closure],” says Madeira. “I want to harness that pushback and help give voice to it.”

Victims and their families told Madeira that they have been able to regain some control and find their voice by talking with other victims’ family members, telling their stories and getting involved in activities like helping to plan and create memorials.

TADP is grateful to MVFHR and those like Madeira who help to support and empower surviving family members of homicide. Given the protracted legal process that necessarily accompanies the death penalty, Madeira’s research leads to  more questions about the death penalty’s purpose and whether or not it, in fact, harms victims’ families, not helps them.

(Photo courtesy of MVFHR website)

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