For some, such as the members of Murder Victims’ Families for Human Rights, opposition to capital punishment is first and foremost ideological: in their mind, the response to one human rights violation should not be another one. Others, such as Vicki Schieber, resent the attention that inmates on death row receive. Schieber’s daughter, Shannon, was murdered in Pennsylvania in 1998, and she fought the district attorney and prosecutors to keep the death penalty from being applied to her daughter’s killer, poignantly writing that “one tragedy of the death penalty is that it turns society’s perspective away from the victim and creates an outpouring of support for those who have perpetuated a crime. This is not the way to honour our daughter’s life”.
But beyond ideologies, participants in Geneva were particularly keen to accentuate how little support families receive after tragedies. Renny Cushing, whose father was murdered in 1988, spoke at length about the lack of resources available to victims. He told the harrowing story of a woman whose husband was killed. A few weeks later, she received a hefty bill for the cost of the ambulance which transported the body. She had, in effect, to pay for her family member’s death.
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