The Common Good
February 2009

Hope on Death Row?

by Rose Marie Berger, Jeannie Choi | February 2009

In October, the families of crime victims and the families of perpetrators came together for a common cause: Abolish the death penalty in Montana.

In October, the families of crime victims and the families of perpetrators came together for a common cause: Abolish the death penalty in Montana. The families were part of Journey of Hope, a 10-day, 65-stop tour with 20 speakers representing crime victims’ families, death row inmates’ families, and former death row inmates who were proven innocent. The speakers shared their experiences with forgiveness, redemption, and justice, and asked listeners to call state representatives to demand an end to the death penalty.

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“Politicians listen to their constituents,” Bill Pelke, president and co-founder of Journey of Hope, told Sojourners, “so this journey is a grassroots movement to put human faces on the issue of the death penalty by us telling our stories of loved ones on death row.” New Jersey repealed its capital punishment law in December 2007.

Included in the Montana lineup of speakers was David Kaczyn­ski, brother of “Unabomber” Ted Kaczynski, who was arrested in rural Montana in 1996 after killing three people and injuring 23. David turned in his brother to the FBI on the promise that Ted would get psychiatric care and would not get the death penalty. The FBI reneged on that promise. David and his family became activists against capital punishment, and he is now executive director of New Yorkers Against the Death Penalty.

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