We’re occasionally asked about our position on capital punishment in the context of our work with victims/survivors and offenders. The question always comes down to this: In light of our bringing victims and offenders together in dialogue, are we for or against the Death Penalty? Our simple answer is that we are unworthy of such profound and final decisions in any generalized way, and in our work we are neither for nor against the Death Penalty.
When those victims/survivors wish for the offenders in their cases to be put to death, it is not our place to suggest that they should wish otherwise.
The underlying objective of JUST Alternatives is always to follow the needs of victims/survivors. When those victims/survivors wish for the offenders in their cases to be put to death, it is not our place to suggest that they should wish otherwise. As innocent victims of the terrible choices of violent offenders, they are the ones suffering indescribable loss and devastation, and they have every right to the intensity of their feelings no matter where they lie on the continuum — toward revenge or toward forgiveness. And while we support their positions, it is also not our place to influence them in one direction or the other. We respect their individual feelings and choices completely, no matter which side of the question they tend to be inclined toward. Their positions, and their right to change positions, are theirs alone.
There are some states in which VOD between victims/survivors and “condemned” or Death Row offenders is allowed, and our role as facilitators must always be fundamentally victim-centered, no matter what the circumstance. If we cannot be thus oriented in our work, we cannot facilitate the victim-centered VOD process properly and safely. In any case, VOD in crimes of severe violence is always a post-conviction, post-sentencing process, so facilitators have no influence at all on the sentencing process. And while attorneys have a huge influence on the outcomes of trials, we fundamentally trust the wisdom of the jury in capital cases.