The following statement was read at a press conference opposing the execution of Paul Howell who was sentenced to death in 1992 for the killing of Florida State Trooper Jimmy Fulford. MVFR advocates for replacing the capital punishment system with alternatives that better address the harms caused by murder and that build safer communities.
Murder victim family member Agnes Furey represented MVFR at the press conference.
Murder Victims’ Families for Reconciliation (MVFR) is a national organization whose members include over 1200 family members of murder victims – persons from all across the United States, including Florida, who have experienced firsthand the trauma and injustice of having a loved one murdered and who believe the death penalty is the wrong answer.
Because MVFR’s members are murder victim family members, we are especially mindful of the family of Florida Highway Patrol Trooper Jimmy Fulford. Our members, too, have experienced the pain and rage and violation that come with having a loved one murdered. Our thoughts and prayers are with them. No family should have to endure what they have experienced. We call on all involved in this situation to remember Trooper Fulford’s family.
MVFR advocates for uniting all family members of murder victims, regardless of opinions and beliefs about the death penalty, in calling for better services and supports that meet their shared needs, that help to heal the damage caused by violence, and that make our communities safer.
We understand and respect that some murder victim family members have different views on the death penalty and perhaps about this specific execution. At the same time, we know that support for the death penalty among murder victim family members is typically over-estimated by the public, exaggerated by politicians, and overstated by the media.
MVFR opposes this execution for the same reasons that we oppose the entire capital punishment system. We see capital punishment as a broken system that does not aid healing, does not provide justice, and does not create a safer society. We believe the death penalty fails families of murder victims by:
• distracting attention from the many pressing needs of victims’ families,
• diverting resources better spent on victims’ needs and on public safety,
• dividing families and communities precisely when we need to be most united, and
• delaying both justice and healing.
We oppose this execution. We oppose the entire capital punishment system. We call on our leaders to focus more attention on that which keeps our communities safer and that which helps families and communities heal after violence. We call on our leaders to stop this execution and end this broken and distracting system of capital punishment.