Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Breaking the hold of Michael Ross

Today we have a truly amazing story out of Connecticut -- thanks to Peter for bringing this to our attention.

A woman named Vivian Dobson is the only known survivor of Michael Ross, who killed a number of women and was sentenced to death in Connecticut. Ross attacked Dobson but somehow she escaped and survived. Today Dobson is sharing her story with Connecticut legislators.

And she is speaking out against the death penalty.

She makes the point that the death penalty hurts victims' family members more than it helps them. Hurts them because of the endless round of appeals. Hurts them because at the end it is the murderer is shown in the stagelight of publicity while the victims are forgotten. This is true even in states like Texas, where executions are routine. It is especially true in states like Connecticut, where they are not.

In her own words:

"This really has nothing to do with death," she says. "It has to do with control, with holding people's lives in his hands. And as long as he stays on death row, he holds our lives in his hands.

"And this is the part that they can't see. I see it because I've been living it for 22 years. I'm at the point now where I'm ready to take control of my own life."

That is why she has emerged from hiding, why today she plans to do something she thought she'd never do: leave the protective bubble she has created out of necessity and stand before a room full of people to tell her story.

She is afraid people will be angry, that they will think she has betrayed them.

But she is more afraid of continuing to let others speak for her, of the state choosing death in her name.

To read the whole column about Dobson's experience, go here.

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