Just to voice out an opinion, the trauma of the death penalty is incomprehensible. You’d be surprised to know that it affects more people than you may think so. When it comes to death penalty - eligible crimes, it is of common nature that we’d often think of the victim and their family. There is nothing wrong with thinking about the victim and their family and feeling sympathy towards them. Not at all. But some victims we rarely think about is the perpetrator’s family. While the victim’s family is going through unexplainable pain, the perpetrator’s family could very well possibly be going through similar emotions.
I want you to picture something very quick. For a moment, just imagine taking on a perspective that may not be so pleasing. Imagine you have found out that your son or daughter (or if you don’t have a child, just imagine you have one), or perhaps, one of your siblings or parents has done the unspeakable act of murder. Let’s say they murdered a young child. Would you want your son or daughter or brother/sister or father/mother to receive the death penalty?
Think about this very carefully now, alright? Imagine the emotions you would feel towards them and the victim. It is safe to assume that most of you would say “no”? But hey, that’s just my safe assumption based on family love. You may never know how you feel about this particular circumstance until you experience it. This is a perspective that is very rarely viewed and should be more often.
The point I’m trying to make here is that there are more trauma the death penalty causes than is shown on the surface. The family of the perpetrator are often treated as the perpetrators themselves by society. This is simply not fair because they did not commit the act. The parents of the perpetrator are often blamed for “bad parenting” or “set them up” to commit this kind of crime. While in some instances, this can be true, there are often cases that are not like this that are completely disregarded. Innocent families are being dragged through the system, waiting for their loved one to die.
While I am not condoning the acts of the perpetrator, I feel it is important for the public to know the death penalty widens the circle of grief oftentimes. I feel the perpetrator’s families are often underrepresented and even shamed by society. On one hand, you have an innocent family whose loved one was murdered. On another hand, you have an innocent family who is waiting for their loved one to be put to death. Conclusion? They are both hurting in ways that we cannot imagine.
Although, the perpetrator’s family may have very different feelings about their loved one. Some may think that he or she deserves to be put to death and is guilty as sin. Others may believe that he or she is innocent and needs to be exonerated immediately. The latter is probably what is most common I would assume. As you can probably guess, this could tear families apart. What can put even more of a damper on the family is being involved in the criminal justice system for so many years while waiting for their family member to be killed.
Specifically, younger siblings of the perpetrator suffer greatly and undergo a lot of stress during this time. They often feel that they cannot express their feelings to their grieving parents because they think they already have too much on their plate. They go to school and are utterly shamed by their peers and treated as if they were the murderer. This, in my opinion, can cause great issues for young children growing up in this type of atmosphere of shame and hurt.
What can we do to fix this problem? Although I may not have the exact answer, I feel it is important for the public to take a moment to see a different perspective that is rarely thought about. Killing someone is killing someone and when we kill more people this causes a ripple and so many more people are affected than that is initially thought about.