Sara Olson, former member of the Symbionese Liberation Army (famous for kidnapping Patty Hearst), has written an article blasting the recent passage of Marsy’s Law. I have submitted a comment in response, which I have copied here. (It took more than 24 hours for my comment to appear on the website).
This is the response I wrote to the prisonmovement blog – it finally posted, but I copied it here in case it disappears again. Please add a comment if you feel so inclined. Jan
The victims of violent crime and their families have already received a life sentence. In the course of the 18 months since my family members were murdered I have lost not only three of the people who made my life worth living, but also my physical and emotional health, my job and health care coverage, and the support of most of my “friends” who are impatient for me to “get over it.”
One of the things that this article points out is that the bond with prisoners and their families is threatened by a life sentence. That’s sad. But, they had a choice to make when they chose violence against another human being. I don’t get visits from my loved ones either, and I had no say in the choices that broke apart my family. Memorial parks don’t let their inmates out on parole.
There is a tendancy of writers on this subject to label all crime victims as single minded vigilantes out for revenge. How judgemental is that? The truth is that we struggle every single day. We cry every single day. We are bewildered by the crime, by the justice system, and by the fact that we now have to try to reconstruct our life with an injury that will never heal. I’d suggest walking a mile in my shoes, but that isn’t something I would ever wish on another human being.
The article suggests that Marsy’s Law was passed by money. I don’t think that’s true. Many people never saw a single political ad for Marsy’s law. What really turned the tide for Marsy’s law was the thousands of victims who telephoned and emailed and blogged to friends, colleagues and family members. We contributed our time, energy and resources to try to right the terrible injustices that we have witnessed first hand. The tiny donation I was able to make meant just as much to me as large donations from other sources. Do you really think that Marsy’s death didn’t affect her family as grievously as the deaths of my boys affected my life? Grief is grief. Murder is murder. Having a loved one deliberately torn from your life by violence knows no economic, religious or ethnic divides. We hurt. We miss our sister or father or child and no matter what happens in our lives going forward, there will always be a presence missing…a big hole in the fabric of our family that can never be repaired. I have no doubt that Dr. Nicholas and his family feel that loss just as deeply as I do. Neal’s Mom