Friday, December 22, 2006

Creating more victims -- Part Five

Today we bring you part five of a ten-part series. Based on the groundbreaking report Creating More Victims: How Executions Hurt the Families Left Behind, this series was prepared with the assistance of Murder Victims' Families for Human Rights and is running in conjunction with the holiday season.

Part six will resume on Monday, after we take a break for the weekend.

Stanley Allridge was 7 years old when two of his older brothers, Ron and James, were arrested and charged with capital murder. “That was the first time I’d seen my father cry,” Stan remembers. “He said, ‘Your brothers are in trouble.’ But after that, it wasn’t really discussed. We just started dealing with it.”

Stan and the two other surviving Allridge brothers witnessed Ron’s execution in 1995, when Stan was 18 and had just graduated from high school. “I didn’t really believe it at all, until later,” he recalls. “When I was finally leaving the Walls Unit [in Texas] and driving home, that’s when it hit me, that’s when the tears came. But everybody dealt with it in our own individual ways. We didn’t talk about it at all, or we talked about it vaguely but not how we felt about what we had seen. How do you talk about that? We never really thought it was going to happen. It’s not like he was terminally ill. It’s a murder. You just don’t get ready for a murder.”

Afterwards, Stan says, “I felt like my life had totally changed. I would be separated from other individuals. I was forced into this state of manhood. Witnessing death, witnessing a murder, is something that’s totally different. I knew my life would be different – I didn’t know how, but I knew.”

Nine years later, Stan witnessed his brother James’s execution. Now, having seen two of his brothers put to death, he has become an outspoken activist, speaking to audiences about his brothers’ lives and about the effect of the death penalty on a family.

To read Creating More Victims: How Executions Hurt the Families Left Behind, go here, scroll down to near the bottom of the front page of the web site, and click on the report.

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