….Ten years ago I found out that Gary was willing to meet me in a mediated dialogue through the sponsorship of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice. I had never laid eyes on him and had, over the years, gradually come to ignore his existence. As the time approached for us to meet, I know that Gary became more and more apprehensive, but not me. I wanted to see him and tell him how grateful I was for his remorse. I know that this was an unusual response, but it was only possible through my discovery of restorative justice and, of course, by the grace of God. I strongly believe that most of my journey over the last 23 years has been through grace. Otherwise, I have no explanation for it.
When I met with Gary, I discovered a young man whose life had been one of abuse and neglect, a world apart from that of my childhood and that of my children’s. Though he offered no excuses for his actions, what he told me helped me to place my daughter’s murder in a larger context and helped me to understand how he could have done such a tragic deed. His total remorse was an incredibly healing encounter for me.
….When my daughter was killed, I would have supported a sentence of life without parole for the juveniles who killed her. Today, I am glad the Supreme Court ruled that young offenders must be treated differently from adults even for heinous crimes.
We cannot afford to lose our young people to desolation and cruelty. The Supreme Court has taken one small step, but we must go further. Our policies should reflect what I truly believe is God’s will for forgiveness. We must end the practice of sentencing youth to prison for the rest of their lives without hope of release, because people should never be declared worthless and stripped of the opportunity for rehabilitation due to crimes committed in their youth.
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