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

  • The assault on Obamacare begins

    Donald Trump Friday night signed an executive order directing government to scale back Obamacare to the extent possible. Though the signing was mostly symbolic, it likely has implications for Arkansas.
    • Jan 21, 2017
  • Two dead in North Little Rock shooting

    two people were fatally wounded about 9 p.m. Friday in a home in the 1400 block of Division Street, North Little Rock.
    • Jan 21, 2017
  • 2nd Amendment meets the 1st in Fayetteville on campus carry

    They've had a forum in Fayetteville today on Rep. Charlie Collins' fervent desire to force more pistol-packing people onto the campus at the University of Arkansas (and every other college in Arkansas.) He got an earful from opponents.
    • Jan 20, 2017
  • More »

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

  • Sarah Huckabee Sanders to be deputy White House press secretary

    Donald Trump announced additional White House staff today, notably including Sarah Huckabee Sanders, deputy assistant to the president and principal deputy press secretary.
  • Legislation filed for $10 million school voucher program

    The legislation to vastly expand transfer of state tax dollars to private schools came before the school choice day event I mentioned earlier.
  • Pork and more

    Some notes on disparate topics before I take a vacation break.
  • Trumpeting

    When President-elect Trump announced he would, in a few days, force Congress to enact comprehensive health insurance for everyone, poor or rich, that would provide better and cheaper care than they've ever gotten, you had to wonder whether this guy is a miracle worker or a fool.
  • Putin and Trump

    Here's a thought exercise: What do you suppose would happen if Russian strongman Vladimir Putin decided to clarify remarks he reportedly made about Donald Trump during the election campaign?

Latest in Max Brantley

  • Pork and more

    Some notes on disparate topics before I take a vacation break.
    • Jan 19, 2017
  • Praising Asa

    Let us now praise the governor for a starkly moderate record, at least in comparison with other red-state executives.
    • Jan 12, 2017
  • More on LRSD tax

    When the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette and a Walton Foundation-paid lobbyist, long devoted critics of the Little Rock School District, lead the messaging for a quarter-billion dollars in new tax debt for the district, it is cause for caution.
    • Jan 5, 2017
  • More »

Visit Arkansas

1.73-carat diamond found at Crater of Diamonds State Park

1.73-carat diamond found at Crater of Diamonds State Park

Jack Pearadin and Doug Nelsen found a 1.73-carat diamond after nearly a year of searching the park's field.

Event Calendar

« »

January

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: Putin and Trump

    • Good one, Al. Hell hath no fury, and all that happy horse-shit. I hope Gene…

    • on January 20, 2017
  • Re: Putin and Trump

    • Make that "old hack."

    • on January 20, 2017
  • Re: Putin and Trump

    • Oh dear - It is me, E.E.W - I'll confess - but not so much…

    • on January 20, 2017
 

© 2017 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation