The death penalty and victims of crime

I am opposed to the death penalty for numerous reasons. However one reason that came into particular focus for me following the botched execution in Arizona yesterday was the effect of the death penalty on family members, in this case the family of the victim.

I watched the press conference following the execution, and was disturbed by the levels of anger, and the account by the family of how they had regularly been reminded of the terrible event for the last 25 years.

I thought of the phrase “let go of anger” and on searching immediately found a wikiHow page How to Let Go of Anger. It says:

Anger can eat you up inside and slowly wreck your life. While anger is a natural emotion and a healthy response at times, hanging onto anger can be dangerous. You need to learn to let it go for your own sake. Here’s some advice about how to do just that.

There are then a couple of steps, “Identify the root of your anger” and “let yourself grieve” but the third step seems most significant “Replace resentment with compassion”.

Perhaps compassion may be hard to feel for someone who has committed a terrible crime on your relative, but every crime has a cause, and at least understanding the cause is I think necessary to avoid the very real harmful effects of anger.

I believe the lengthy legal process associated with capital punishment, the invitation to sustain anger over a long period of time and the impossibility of mutual forgiveness  and compassion due to sustained conflict, causes further psychological damage to the family of the victim. They do not deserve this. The death penalty should be abolished.

See also:


3 thoughts on “The death penalty and victims of crime”

  1. What cause is there for committing a crime. How do I understand that my first love Elias was murdered with no apparant cause and there was no end to the story as usual the cops botched the investigation. No don’t quite agree as to every crime has a cause.
    My son died also without a cause an no investigation.

    1. laetitia
      I’m sorry to hear of your losses. But everything that happens has a cause even if we don’t know it. The history of the person who committed the crime, what happened to him or her as a child, what turned him to criminal ways, sometimes what caused mental problems.
      I believe understanding these factors, even if only in general, can help you come to terms with terrible events, and reduce the problems you can suffer due to not letting go of anger.
      Best wishes.

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