"On behalf of thousands who have lost loved ones to murder, myself included, I rise to say to our elected officials that murdering those who were convicted of murdering our loved ones does not bring us closure; it does not produce healing; it does not enable us to move on. All executions do is continue the matrix of death and advance the machinery of misery onto those who suffer the cruel and unusual state-sponsored death and their families."
My friends, today is a day like no other as Delaware lawmakers are just hours away from voting on a measure to repeal the state's death penalty. MVFR is contributing to this effort! Immediate past board chair Jeremy Collins is providing pivotal leadership in coordinating efforts of local and national anti-death penalty organizations, while MVFR's Delaware staff person Horace Knight Jr. and I are giving voice and presence. Several MVFR Delaware members are here as well. We are joined by the courageous team at The Delaware Repeal Project and numerous organizations of color. Again, this is a day like no other! Watch for updates on this page.
You can find the full text of my statement below, and more details on the political situation can be found here.
Delaware Press Conference Statement on Repealing the Death Penalty by Dr. Jack Sullivan, Jr.,
I stand as one who represents a demographic that many assume would be among the very first to support the death penalty: relatives of those who have been murdered. For many years, scores of prosecutors and politicians have asserted that the only way for us to ever arrive at closure and healing is for the state to execute those who were convicted of killing our loved ones.
However, on behalf of thousands who have lost loved ones to murder, myself included, I rise to say to our elected officials that murdering those who were convicted of murdering our loved ones does not bring us closure; it does not produce healing; it does not enable us to move on. All executions do is continue the matrix of death and advance the machinery of misery onto those who suffer the cruel and unusual state-sponsored death and their families.
With tears in our eyes and hearts that beat fast with every memory of our loved ones, we boldly issue the following plea to our elected officials: execute no one in our names! Not in our names! We reject a narrative of vengeance; instead, we affirm a narrative based on vision, a vision of true healing for victim families.
Lawmakers, if you want to honor those who have lost loved ones to murder, killing those who were convicted, often wrongly and with racial bias, is not the way. Instead, I implore you to invest in systems of support to victim families. Make sure they have access to counseling, quality education, adequate housing, scholarships for higher education, and resources that are necessary to sustain and rebuild their lives.
Many of our members are people of faith, while others are simply people of goodwill. Collectively, we hold that we do not trust a future that does not involve reconciliation. In fact, a future that does not include pathways for redemption nullifies our songs about amazing grace and voids our meditations on the power of forgiveness. We therefore seek a future that is not restricted by the blinding light of vengeance, but is liberated by the bright dawn of reconciliation.
So we stand in solidarity with people of goodwill and vision across the nation and particularly in Delaware, who cry out with one voice: vision, not vengeance; reconciliation not ruthlessness; redemption not rejection. Repeal the death penalty! Thank you.