Contact Teresa Avent // tavent@MVFR.org // 984.202.5972
MVFR DISAPPOINTED BY AG DEATH DECISION FOR DYLANN ROOF
Raleigh, NC - Murder Victims’ Families for Reconciliation (MVFR), expresses its profound disappointment over the decision of United States Attorney General, Loretta Lynch, to pursue the death penalty for Dylann Roof, the accused murderer of nine members of Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church, Charleston, South Carolina.
As the oldest national anti-death penalty organization that is led by members of victims’ families, MVFR understands the life-altering feelings of sadness, outrage, grief and brokenness that are visited upon those whose loved ones were brutally taken away through murder. Furthermore, MVFR maintains that every homicide, regardless of methods, number of victims, contexts, or levels of public knowledge, is a catastrophic, heinous act that requires the full attention of law enforcement personnel and officers of the judicial system to bring murderers to justice.
However, while MVFR fully believes that murderers should be held accountable for their grotesque actions, our experiences and values lead us to offer, with utmost respect, the perspective that government-sponsored executions of convicted murderers are responses that are anchored in contradiction as they essentially perpetuate the cycle of violence.
MVFR further contends that the death penalty brings neither healing nor closure to victims’ families. Instead, it forces them to participate in lengthy trials and subjects them to widespread public attention during times when they are grieving and taking steps to rebuild their lives. Many families report receiving little or no government attention following the trials of those accused of murdering their loved ones.
We believe that when the government expresses intent to execute those who are convicted of murder, it clearly signals to its citizens the same message that murderers communicated when they carried out their horrific acts: human life is disposable. “At a time when our nation needs decisive actions that propel us on a course toward social healing and transformation, we sadly acknowledge that the death penalty offers neither,” remarked Dr. Jack Sullivan, Jr., MVFR’s Executive Director. “It simply serves to move us more closely to the swirling, hope-draining vortex of vengeance, violence, and death that has no redemptive power.”
With the aforementioned understandings as our foundation, MVFR respectfully asks Attorney General Lynch and Charleston’s Ninth Circuit Solicitor, Scarlett Wilson, to vacate their respective decisions to seek the death penalty for Dylann Roof, and instead use the power of their offices to broadcast to all that inasmuch as the government must hold murderers accountable for their actions, it will not employ the matrix and machinery of death to do so.
For 40 years, MVFR, the longest-operating organization of murder victims’ family members in opposition to capital punishment, has raised voices in many successful abolition efforts across the country, including New Mexico, New Jersey, Illinois, Connecticut and Maryland. Our members have also worked in states where partner abolition organizations are influencing the death penalty conversation and reforming broken capital systems – like Colorado, Arkansas, Georgia, Oregon, Texas and California. www.MVFR.org