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.
- How I Became Interested in the Death Penalty and Why I’m Against It “Ironically, the first thing that became clear to me was that the people who suffered most as a result of it were the friends and families of murder victims.”
- Gabrielle Giffords Opposed Death Penalty For Her Shooter
- To end the anguish, drop the death penalty – by the parents of a victim of the 2013 Boston Marathon Bombings.