The death penalty does not serve the families of murder victims!
The State of Maryland needs to do much more to support and care for families left behind by murder. The drive for death penalty repeal is underscoring the needs of survivors of homicide. Tthe Maryland Commission on Capital Punishment made two recommendations in 2008 - to repeal the death penalty AND to increase the services and resources provided to families of murder victims.
Legislation pending in the 2010 General Assembly offers a modest but essential step forward. / is especially important for Maryland families traumatized by murder! It mandates periodic police training about the rights and services available to ALL crime victims, expanding current Maryland law that require such training only for sexual assault victims.
Survivors of homicide victims are too often the most invisible and underserved of crime victims. March 10 will mark the 16th anniversary of the murder of Michael Spikes, the husband of MD CASE organizer Bonnita Spikes. Bonnita told the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee at a March 2 hearing on SB 820:
Based on my personal experience, too many murder victims' families, from Maryland's poorest communities in particular, are NOT accessing the services they need to cope and survive. . . In so many murders, no one is ever arrested. Hence, the police are often the only official contact that family will ever have. A trained, knowledgeable police officer then can make all the difference to a family devastated by murder, particularly families without the financial means to access private legal and mental health services.