Tuesday, June 07, 2005

One of the objections to the death penalty is that it denies the possibility of rehabilitation and restoration. Can a person on death row ever pay the community back for what he or she has done? Certainly one who kills another cannot bring that person back. Are there other forms of restitution? Are there other forms of restoration?

It's a difficult question. But here's an interesting twist. A group of people on death row across the country have raised money to provide college scholarships to two people, one in North Carolina and the other in Texas. Here's a story about their efforts:

Teen Gets Scholarship From Death Row Group

The Associated Press
Tuesday, June 7, 2005; 8:32 AM

RALEIGH, N.C. -- Zach Osborne doesn't have a lifetime of memories about his little sister. He was only 6 years old, and she was only 4, when she was raped and murdered. Their mother's boyfriend was sentenced to death for the crime, and Osborne believes the memory of the murder will make him a better police officer. It's a goal the rising sophomore at East Carolina University is striving to reach with help from an unlikely source _ death row inmates from around the country.

On Tuesday, Osborne, 19, will receive a $5,000 college scholarship from the group of inmates, who solicited money through their bimonthly publication, "Compassion." Including Osborne's grant, they have given out seven scholarships worth about $27,000.

"We would like to support him in realizing his dream of becoming an officer of the law and finding a way to prevent future violence," wrote Dennis Skillicorn, a death row inmate in Missouri who is the newsletter's editor, in the May issue. "Our intent is genuine."

Osborne's sister, Natalie, was murdered in Asheboro in April 1992. The killer, Jeff Kandies, is on North Carolina's death row for the crime.

Living through that experience, Osborne said, will "motivate me more to solve cases or to put more effort in them. It will motivate me to try to prevent events like what happened to my family from happening to others."

Stephen Dear, executive director of the Carrboro-based People of Faith Against the Death Penalty, is to present the scholarship Tuesday. Dear said Osborne's experience will help him empathize with crime victims.

"And he has a wisdom beyond his years, gained the hardest way _ a wisdom that victims need healing and that victims can come to forgive even those who have caused the greatest pain," Dear said. "For a police officer to have that kind of view is a great gift to the community and to the police force."

To read the whole story, go here.

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