Capital punishment harmful for families of victims

Oklahoman Modified: August 27, 2010 at 10:14 am •  Published: August 27, 2010
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Regarding “Federal judge issues stay of execution for Oklahoma death row inmate” (news story, Aug. 18): I extend my sympathies to the families of Otis Short and Jeffrey Matthews, who faces execution for the murder of Short, his great uncle. I understand their hurt. My daughter, Julie Marie Welch, died in the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing. My anger and pain was like no other. I wanted nothing more than the perpetrators’ execution. But I remembered a conversation with Julie some time before she was killed. She said that killing people who kill solves nothing.

I subsequently met Timothy McVeigh's father. He and I found we had in common our love for our children and grief over losing my daughter and his son. In my work sharing Julie's memory around the world, I've met many people close to the death penalty. I know firsthand the harm it causes to the family members of murder victims and those facing execution; to the prison personnel conducting executions; and to our communities still victimized by homicides because capital punishment doesn't deter them.

It's particularly disturbing that capital punishment has few protections against wrongful executions. In recent years, 10 Oklahomans were freed from death row by evidence that proved them innocent. If no evidence links Matthews to his great uncle's murder, every precaution must be taken so Matthews is not mistakenly executed and the anguish of both families over their loved one's murder isn't compounded by Matthews' wrongful death.

Bud Welch, Oklahoma City

Welch is a member of the board of directors of the Oklahoma Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty.


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