Justice neither swift nor sure
To be meaningful, justice should be swift and sure. The death penalty is neither. Capital punishment prolongs pain for victims’ families, dragging them through an agonizing and lengthy process that holds out the promise of an execution at the beginning but often results in a different sentence in the end. A life without parole sentence, on the other hand, begins as soon as victims’ families leave the courtroom and is served anonymously, outside the spotlight of the news cameras.
"A serial killer ripped Deirdre away from us in 1982. My family had no idea, then, that our ordeal was just beginning. All we knew was that the worst of the worst had happened, and the person who did it should pay the ultimate price – the death penalty. From 1982 until 1990 I lived day to day, appeal to appeal, decision to decision. We woke up every day wondering what might happen that day. Will there be another appeal? Another motion? What new decision might come down? The toll it took on me and my family was horrendous… Eight years of trials and retrials changed my mind about the death penalty. I learned the hard way that the death penalty is an albatross over the heads of victims' families."
– Jim O’Brien, whose daughter, Deirdre, was murdered
The death penalty ignores the real needs of surviving families
The death penalty divides families when they need each other most
Can we make the system faster?
Click here to download a fact sheet from Equal Justice USA about the death penalty and murder victims’ families.
We’d like to hear from you
We greatly value the opinion and insights of those who have suffered the murder of a loved one. We would like to speak with you. Please email or call Colleen at firstname.lastname@example.org or (312) 265-0203. If you provide your contact information below, she will be in touch with you.
A website devoted to the needs of Illinois victims. Information about victims’ rights and services as well as support groups, resources and current events and activities.
MVFHR is an international, non-governmental organization of family members of murder victims and family members of the executed, all of whom oppose the death penalty in all cases. We view the death penalty as a profound violation of human rights.
Founded in 1976, Murder Victims’ Families for Reconciliation (MVFR) is a national organization of family members of victims of both homicide and executions who oppose the death penalty in all cases. MVFR includes people of many different perspectives. Because violent crime cuts across a broad spectrum of society, our members are geographically, racially and economically diverse.
Mothers of Murdered Sons (MOMS) welcome those have experienced the death of a loved one by violence. ALL victims families are welcome! Contact Phyllis Duncan for more information: 708-547-0154, 429 South 24th, Chicago, IL
Melvin & Patricia Nichols: 773-660-9659 Maria Ramirez: 773-847-1613
Our meetings are held on 1st Thursday of each month. Place: Little Company of Mary Hospital and Health Care Centers. 2800 West 95th Street. Tower Bldg. Gr. 6th Fl, Room C. Evergreen, Park IL 60805 In the event of increment weather, Please contact us prior to meeting. Time: 7:00PM - 9:00 PM
What to do When the Police Leave: A Guide to the First Days of Traumatic Loss By Bill Jenkins. What to do When the Police Leave is one father's response to the need for a frank, honest, and practical book for helping grieving families through the first days of the sudden loss of a loved one or family member. It is rapidly becoming an essential tool for victim support and service organizations, clergy, funeral directors, police departments, and health professionals who do death notifications or work with newly bereaved families. It is filled with information the family needs to make good, healthy decisions in the first days and weeks of their loss, and in the months and years to come. Ordering information available at IllinoisVictims.org
ICADP is working to empower Illinois murder victims’ families to be leaders in our effort to repeal the death penalty. Whether you’d like to help us with legislative action, provide much-needed emotional support to other victims, or something in between, we hope you’ll join our efforts.
Actions you could take:
To become involved with any of these actions, please email or call Colleen at email@example.com or (312) 265-0203
If you have lost a loved one to violence and are concerned about Illinois' death penalty, please add your signature to this letter. We will share this with our Legislators to encourage them to repeal the death penalty in Illinois.
Dear Members of the Illinois General Assembly,
We are family members and loved ones of murder victims. We desperately miss the parents, children, siblings, and spouses we have lost. We live with the pain and heartbreak of their absence every day and would do anything to have them back. We have been touched by the criminal justice system in ways we never imagined and would never wish on anyone. Our experience compels us to speak out for change.
We are writing today to ask for your support in passing HB 5687/SB 3569, which would eliminate the death penalty from Illinois Criminal Code. Though we share different perspectives on the death penalty, each one of us agrees that Illinois’ capital punishment system doesn’t work for victims’ families and that our state is better off without it.
To be meaningful, justice should be swift and sure. The death penalty is neither. Capital trials drag victims' loved ones through an agonizing and lengthy process, which often does not result in the intended punishment. A life sentence right from the start would keep society safe, hold killers responsible for their brutal and depraved acts, and would start as soon as we left the courtroom instead of leaving us in limbo.
At the same time, eliminating the death penalty would save scarce funds. As Illinois taxpayers, we have spent millions of dollars and diverted endless hours of court and law enforcement time since capital punishment was reinstated. What has it bought us? Years of appeals in all cases, wrongful convictions in some cases, a process that has clogged our courts, and a system so broken that it can not be fixed.
Those resources could be spent in better ways. Illinois could put more police on our streets and provide them with the best equipment available. Law enforcement programs that work might have prevented the tragedies we suffered at only a fraction of the cost of pursuing capital cases. A legal system that wasn’t bogged down with committing tremendous resources on capital cases could prosecute and sentence countless other crimes and take dangerous people off the streets before they commit murder. Dollars saved could be put toward counseling for victims of crime or other services we desperately need as we attempt to get on with our lives.
Only a handful of arbitrarily selected murderers are sentenced to death. In 2008 there were 790 murders in Illinois and 3 death sentences. Instead of investing our resources in a punishment that affects very few offenders, we should focus on programs that can help many survivors.
It is vitally important that Illinois address the needs of surviving family and friends as we struggle to heal. We know that elected officials who promote the death penalty often do so with the best intentions of helping family members like us. We are writing to say that there are better ways to help us. The death penalty is a broken and costly system. Illinois doesn’t need it, and victims’ families like ours don’t want it.
Please vote for HB 5687/SB 3569.