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

From the ArkTimes store

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

More by Max Brantley

  • But what about the Clintons? Last refuge of Trump, New York Times

    Trying to compare Donald Trump's reaction to the Russia investigation with Bill Clinton's dealings with Kenneth Starr should be a non-starter if the facts mattered. But these days — and to the New York Times — it ain't necessarily so.
    • Jul 23, 2017
  • Football is king, Bentonville edition

    Good analysis in the Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette of an unannounced Bentonville School Board vote last week to put $2 million into a football stadium for West High School despite board assurances in last May's tax election that no money would go to a football stadium.
    • Jul 23, 2017
  • Dinner and dancing in Dogtown

    A good night out in Argenta. Looking for the theater? Consider "Sweet Charity."
    • Jul 23, 2017
  • More »

More by Arkansas Times Staff

People who saved…

Readers also liked…

  • Bootstraps for me, not thee

    Mean spirit, hypocrisy and misinformation abound among the rump minority threatening to wreck state government rather than allow passage of the state Medicaid appropriation if it continues to include the Obamacare-funded expansion of health insurance coverage for working poor.
    • Apr 14, 2016
  • Trump: The Obama of 2016?

    Conner Eldridge, the Democratic challenger to incumbent Republican U.S. Sen. John Boozman, launched an assault on Boozman Monday morning rich with irony and opportunity.
    • May 5, 2016
  • Double-talk

    A couple of instances of doublespeak cropped up in Little Rock over the weekend.
    • Jun 29, 2017

Most Shared

  • So much for a school settlement in Pulaski County

    The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette's Cynthia Howell got the scoop on what appears to be coming upheaval in the Pulaski County School District along with the likely end of any chance of a speedy resolution of school desegregation issues in Pulaski County.
  • Riverfest calls it quits

    The board of directors of Riverfest, Arkansas's largest and longest running music festival, announced today that the festival will no longer be held. Riverfest celebrated its 40th anniversary in June. A press release blamed competition from other festivals and the rising cost of performers fees for the decision.
  • Football for UA Little Rock

    Andrew Rogerson, the new chancellor at UA Little Rock, has decided to study the cost of starting a major college football team on campus (plus a marching band). Technically, it would be a revival of football, dropped more than 60 years ago when the school was a junior college.
  • Turn to baseball

    When the world threatens to get you down, there is always baseball — an absorbing refuge, an alternate reality entirely unto itself.

Latest in Max Brantley

  • Football for UA Little Rock

    Andrew Rogerson, the new chancellor at UA Little Rock, has decided to study the cost of starting a major college football team on campus (plus a marching band). Technically, it would be a revival of football, dropped more than 60 years ago when the school was a junior college.
    • Jul 20, 2017
  • We're No. 1! in vote suppression

    It's not often that Arkansas can claim national leadership, so give Secretary of State Mark Martin credit for something.

    • Jul 13, 2017
  • Bangin' in LR

    About 2:30 a.m. Saturday, with the Power Ultra Lounge downtown jammed for a rap show by Finese2Tymes (Ricky Hampton of Memphis), gunfire broke out. Before it was over, 25 people had been wounded by gunfire and three others injured in the rush for safety.
    • Jul 6, 2017
  • More »

Event Calendar

« »

July

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 Viewed

  • Another Jesus

    If you follow the logic of Jason Rapert and his supporters, God is very pleased so many have donated money to rebuild a giant stone slab with some rules on it. A few minutes on Rapert's Facebook page (if he hasn't blocked you yet) also shows his supporters believe that Jesus wants us to lock up more people in prison, close our borders to those in need and let poor Americans fend for themselves for food and health care.

Most Recent Comments

  • Re: Pay attention

    • I have attended community meetings about the recent spike in violence in LR, and police…

    • on July 22, 2017
  • Re: Pay attention

    • Adawson's comments attribute the plight of black people in the United States to the War…

    • on July 22, 2017
  • Re: Pay attention

    • Heather Wilson, blacks have NOT been prevented from pursuing the skilled trades as a result…

    • on July 22, 2017
 

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