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Victims' families views vary

As the sister of a murdered man whose killer is on death row, I must strenuously object to Lisa Sorg's statement "the capital punishment debate will pit ... victims' advocates against death-penalty opponents" ("Death penalty issues bounce back to judge," Feb. 7). This juxtaposition wrongly identifies everyone in favor of victims' rights and everyone who works on behalf of victims and their families as unanimously in favor of execution. The Independent, of all newspapers, should know better.

Anyone who doubts the vitality of the abolitionist fervor among families of the slain should visit the Web sites of Murder Victims' Families for Human Rights (www.mvfhr.org), Journey of Hope ... From Violence to Healing (www.journeyofhope.org) or Murder Victims' Families for Reconciliation (www.mvfr.org), which is at this very moment establishing a state-level branch here in North Carolina for family members around the state who are opposed to execution.

This is my invitation to the Independent to keep in view those of us who believe that killing our loved ones' killers is no fit tribute to the lives of those we've lost, who care about healing torn hearts and lives and communities more than we do about satisfying personal fantasies and feelings of vengeance, who know that our only hope to be a free and responsible society is to seek solutions that are more creative and more compassionate than the approach the murderers themselves use: If someone's a big problem to you, kill them.

One last note: If Rep. Paul Luebke really believes that there is a way to "make the death penalty fair" in a world where no one rich winds up on death row, human error and prejudice will always be with us, and no true failsafe against corruption in our criminal justice system exists, then he is either a man of much greater wisdom and vision than anyone I've ever known about, or he is sadly delusional about how these forces actually play out among people condemned to die.

Charisse Coleman
Durham

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