Favorite

This week: A guest writer 

Tested on death penalty

BY BETSEY WRIGHT



When I give talks about my opposition to the death penalty, somebody always declares that I wouldn’t feel this way if somebody I loved had been murdered. Unfortunately, I got put to the test.

In February 2005, in Texas, my precious 21-year-old niece, Heather, was tortured, raped, mutilated and murdered. Somebody destroyed her dreams and her life, and destroyed our family’s hopes for her. I am desperate for justice. I want the Texas Rangers to find the man who committed this horror. I want him caught so he won’t do such a thing to anybody else. I want him found so that Heather’s mother can sleep again instead of worrying about her other daughters. I find myself praying that he will just plead guilty because I don’t want the hideous things he did to Heather talked about in a public trial.

But I don’t want him executed. That would be revenge, not justice. I believe the words of the Bible that say revenge is God’s, not ours. I shudder at the idea of government imitating this killer by killing him. All the talk about the “closure” given by an execution is a myth. Heather is gone. Her chair is forever empty, and killing her murderer will not change that. The closure I want is his incarceration. I don’t want to be jolted back into horrible memories whenever there is an appeal to a death sentence And I don’t want his family to be forced into grief and sorrow. Why create another family of another slaying victim? Executions are the most premeditated of all killings, and shamefully, they are legal in 38 states

I know firsthand from my work with Death Row inmates that a family can maintain a loving connection with a prisoner. A child can bond with, and love, a parent or grandparent who is in prison.

As a Christian, I am facing one of the hardest challenges of my life to forgive the man who took Heather from us. I know I must forgive, and I know it can be done, but it is going to be unimaginably difficult. I keep remembering when I bought Heather her computer for college. I remember showing her the sights in Washington, D.C. I remember how adored she was by her younger sisters. Oh my… it is going to be so hard to forgive.

And as a Christian, I want the man who took our Heather to be redeemed. He is a child of God and God loves him as much as He loves me. My church, the United Methodist Church, begins its statement of opposition to the death penalty with this sentence: “We believe the death penalty denies the power of Christ to redeem, restore and transform all human beings.” I can’t say it better than that.

My opposition to the death penalty has not wavered because of this horrible murder. I have joined two associations of families of murder victims that oppose the death penalty. And it is now common, when I am speaking about the death penalty in Arkansas, for a family member of a murder victim to identify himself or herself, also stating opposition to the death penalty.



Betsey Wright, whose career as a political adviser included a decade of work for Gov. Bill Clinton, lives in Rogers.




Favorite

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

More by Max Brantley

More by Arkansas Times Staff

People who saved…

Readers also liked…

  • Supremely discredited

    Arkansas Supreme Court Justice Rhonda Wood and her allies continue to discredit the state's highest court.
    • Jul 30, 2015
  • Hutchinson pulls Faubus move

    I don't know what if anything might arise or be planned in the future relative to Gov. Asa Hutchinson's order to end Medicaid reimbursement for medical services (not abortion) provided by Planned Parenthood in Arkansas.
    • Aug 20, 2015
  • Neighborliness, in Little Rock and beyond

    I had a parochial topic in mind this week — a surprise plan by Mayor Mark Stodola to address the Arkansas Arts Center's many needs.
    • Nov 19, 2015

Most Shared

  • Labor department director inappropriately expensed out-of-state trips, audit finds

    Jones was "Minority Outreach Coordinator" for Hutchinson's 2014 gubernatorial campaign. The governor first named him as policy director before placing him over the labor department instead in Jan. 2015, soon after taking office.
  • World leaders set to meet in Little Rock on resource access and sustainable development

    Little Rock will next week host a series of meetings on the use of technology to tackle global problems led by Club de Madrid — a coalition of more than 100 former democratic former presidents and prime ministers from around the world — and the P80 Group, a coalition of large public pension and sovereign wealth funds founded by Prince Charles to combat climate change.
  • Rapert compares Bill Clinton to Orval Faubus

    Sen. Jason Rapert (R-Conway)  was on "Capitol View" on KARK, Channel 4, this morning, and among other things that will likely inspire you to yell at your computer screen, he said he expects someone in the legislature to file a bill to do ... something about changing the name of the Bill and Hillary Clinton National Airport.

Latest in Max Brantley

  • Kids count, not confidentiality

    The trial for the murder of Isaiah Torres, 6, was a reminder again of a gaping hole in the law pertaining to child protective services.
    • Nov 24, 2016
  • Fixing blame: President Trump

    Did the press fail? Were liberal-leaning journalists on the coasts responsible for missing the Trump wave among middle-to-lower income white voters with lower educational attainment?
    • Nov 17, 2016
  • Can we get along?

    he Times production deadline fell before polls closed this week, so I'll look to the past and future.
    • Nov 10, 2016
  • More »

Visit Arkansas

View Trumpeter Swans in Heber Springs

View Trumpeter Swans in Heber Springs

Magness Lake, in Heber Springs, is a magnet for swans

Event Calendar

« »

December

S M T W T F S
  1 2 3
4 5 6 7 8 9 10
11 12 13 14 15 16 17
18 19 20 21 22 23 24
25 26 27 28 29 30 31

Most Recent Comments

  • Re: Worth it

    • And loyal, to a fault.

    • on December 6, 2016
  • Re: Worth it

    • Alas, Gene's memory ain't what it used to be. He wrote a column some time…

    • on December 5, 2016
  • Re: Forget identity politics

    • Hillarys 'Stronger Together' nonsense failed because she failed to make it a reality. As Gene…

    • on December 5, 2016
 

© 2016 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation