Death Penalty Rethinking

RECEIVED Thu., Aug. 4, 2005

Dear Editor,
    Last Thursday I witnessed the execution of a man I knew in high school and whom I've come to consider a friend since I wrote him on death row six years ago. In the days leading to his execution, I met some of the people who still care about him. Four of us witnessed his death.
    I had absolutely nothing to do with his crime, yet his death has brought me and his other loved ones tremendous suffering.
    I have lost a friend to murder before. I wish that pain of murder victims' survivors could be eased, and sincerely hope that my friend's execution brought his victims' loved ones some solace. Nevertheless, a grief that can never be completely salved has been compounded with another death, another mother missing her child, more loved ones who are now thrown into mourning.
    In writing this, I do not mean to tell people that to yearn for murderers to pay for their crimes with their lives is wrong. I can understand that gut need. I write to ask that everyone take a few moments to remember that most people on death row have people who love them. As the friend of a convicted killer, I can tell you that with an execution comes more suffering on the part of innocent people.
    We must do a better job of helping people who have been touched by murder. If we must cling to the death penalty, we should understand it as not just the killing of a killer, but is a long process that will cause pain and disruption in the lives of many people who don't reside on death row.
    I hope that I have not caused any survivors of murder victims more pain by what I have said. I hope I have disturbed the complacent.
Rachel Penticuff
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