Executions in 2018: min. 690 plus 'thousands' in China

First physical contact after years: Connie Wright hugging her husband Greg - shortly after his execution (photo by courtasy of C. Wright)

Death row family members

When talking about the death penalty, society tends to forget the family members of the executed and death row inmates.

Most death rows in the US only offer non-contact visits for family members and friends. Mothers cannot hug their sons any more, wives only see their husbands through glass and children are unable to touch their daddy. This goes on for years, sometimes even for decades.

Having a family member on death row puts a family under tremendous stress. It is not only the stress of not being able to actually touch the loved one any more, it is also being looked at strangely by the neighbors, the children being rejected by their classmates all of a sudden, kids having to see their fathers being referred to as 'beasts' in the headlines, sometimes family members even losing their jobs, families falling apart because they just cannot take the stress any more.

Having to deal with what their loved one did is not easy for the families either, nor is having to go through it over and over again whenever there is another trial or appeal. Also leaving the court house and being pointed at by others and by the media is something death row family members face regularly.

Knowing the exact date and time the loved one will die - and this for months in advance – brings the stress level to a close to unbearable extend. Lots of family members become ill in this time and suffer from depression and other mental disorders.

Witnessing any execution is an awful experience in itself. Witnessing the execution, the planned killing of a family member, must be even more devastating; family members often suffer from this experience for the rest of their lives.

Most of the times there is no help offered to these family members at all - society totally forgets about them, forgets what this system does to them. They, too, are victims but instead of being helped by society, society often even tends to blame them as well for what happened.

'Murder Victim’s Families for Human Rights' sees death row family members as victims as well. And therefore they launched the project 'No silence, no shame' aiming to draw attention to the ways in which the death penalty harms the families of the executed.

If we take a look at the global picture, the death penalty puts exactly the same kind of stress onto the families of death row inmates and executed people in all countries still using capital punishment. In addition, for example in Japan, Belarus, China and some other countries, the families often are not even informed about the upcoming execution of their loved one, in some countries notification takes place by asking the family to pick up the corpse of the executed person. Sometimes families do not know if their loved one is still alive or has been executed   months ago. In some countries the offender families have to pay for the costs of the execution and sometimes this invoice is the first piece of information that their relative is not  alive any more.  

Penfriends

Do you want to become personally engaged and bring a bit of light back into the life of a person on death row?

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Have a look at our Pen Pal sites….