Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Creating more victims -- Part Ten

Today we conclude our ten-part series, based on the groundbreaking report Creating More Victims: How Executions Hurt the Families Left Behind. Many thanks to Susannah Sheffer and the folks at Murder Victims' Families for Human Rights for making this possible.

“I have health problems that I didn’t have before this happened,” says Jonnie Warner, whose brother, Larry Griffin, was executed in Missouri in 1995. “It never really ends, emotionally. The pain is always there.” For Jonnie, part of the pain is about seeing the effect of the execution on her mother and the children in the family. “People don’t understand that the death penalty has an impact on families that is so far-reaching. My mother has never gotten over it. She has changed so much since it happened. All of the kids have a hard time understanding it. The death penalty creates so many more victims.”

A decade later, Jonnie wonders how things might have been different for her family if they had been able to afford a more experienced attorney: “I guess when you go to get an attorney, that’s when it starts to dawn on you: they’re saying prices that are more than you make in a year. The lawyer we got said he didn’t have any death penalty experience but he would do the best he could. I do believe that he did the best he could with his experience, but he didn’t have any idea what the court experience would be like for an inexperienced lawyer trying a murder case. He was outmatched in experience and resources.”

In 2005, after a year of investigation, the NAACP Legal Defense Fund issued a report raising substantial doubt that Larry Griffin was guilty of the murder for which he had been convicted and executed. The prosecutor’s office agreed to re-open the case, and an investigation is currently in process.

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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