Thursday, September 30, 2010

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Honor homicide victims - oppose death penalty

by Judy Kerr
Published on sfgate.com on Sept. 28th



When someone you love is murdered, life as you know it changes. Your world changes. You change.

I would know; my brother, Bob Kerr, was murdered in 2003. Suddenly, I joined countless victims learning to navigate their way through the criminal justice system on their own.

A stay was issued Tuesday to halt the state of California's scheduled execution of Albert Brown at 9 p.m. on Thursday. As the legal issues may not be resolved until the last minute, the victim's family silently waits, not knowing what lies ahead.

This isn't Brown's first execution date; the family has already gone through the rigmarole of awaiting an execution, only to have it canceled. That's the thing about the death penalty: although it's touted by proponents as being "for the victims," the victims are barely an afterthought.

Unlike the family in this case, my foray into the justice system only went as far as the investigation because my brother's murder remains unsolved. This means that I don't know the name of my brother's killer, whether the killer is alive or dead, behind bars or roaming the streets, or if he has been rehabilitated or has taken more lives.

Sadly, unsolved homicides are very common. In California, 1,000 new murders each year go unsolved. While counties already struggle to solve even half of their homicides, California's budget crisis makes the situation worse. Los Angeles County can't afford overtime for homicide investigators, while Oakland had to lay off police officers.

Families like mine are told there's not enough money for criminal investigations, yet we watch the state pour money into California's death penalty, pursuing executions for 700 inmates who are already safely behind bars on Death Row.

Despite a $19 billion deficit and no budget, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger "borrowed" $64 million from the general fund last month for a down payment to begin construction on a new Death Row housing facility at San Quentin State Prison. In the end, the new facility will cost $400 million or more.

To even seek a death sentence costs counties $1.1 million more than seeking permanent imprisonment. After the trial, the cost for the entire death penalty system - paid by the state's general fund - grows. The annual cost of California's death penalty totals $126 million per year.

After the math is done, we learn that replacing the death penalty with permanent imprisonment would save $1 billion over the next five years. That's $1 billion that could be spent hiring police officers, homicide investigators and DNA lab technicians to solve more murders and to fund services that all victims could use, such as grief counseling.

I will never defend Albert Brown nor do I condone the horrific crime for which he is convicted. However, in honor of my brother and with sincere respect for the families of all murder victims, I speak out against the false notion that the death penalty is needed "for the victims."

Victims' families are not prepared to handle a murder, and most are never supported adequately in the aftermath. The focus should be on providing victims with resources to cope with their loss rather than revictimizing them for decades to come.

But as long as the death penalty remains, the state will continue on its misguided path to "justice," leaving victims behind to fend for themselves.

Judy Kerr is the Northern California outreach coordinator for California Crime Victims for Alternatives to the Death Penalty.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Confessing to Crime, but Innocent

By JOHN SCHWARTZ
Published: September 13, 2010 in The New York Times


KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Eddie Lowery lost 10 years of his life for a crime he did not commit. There was no physical evidence at his trial for rape, but one overwhelming factor put him away: he confessed.

At trial, the jury heard details that prosecutors insisted only the rapist could have known, including the fact that the rapist hit the 75-year-old victim in the head with the handle of a silver table knife he found in the house. DNA evidence would later show that another man committed the crime. But that vindication would come only years after Mr. Lowery had served his sentence and was paroled in 1991.

“I beat myself up a lot” about having confessed, Mr. Lowery said in a recent interview. “I thought I was the only dummy who did that.”

But more than 40 others have given confessions since 1976 that DNA evidence later showed were false, according to records compiled by Brandon L. Garrett, a professor at the University of Virginia School of Law. Experts have long known that some kinds of people — including the mentally impaired, the mentally ill, the young and the easily led — are the likeliest to be induced to confess. There are also people like Mr. Lowery, who says he was just pressed beyond endurance by persistent interrogators.

New research shows how people who were apparently uninvolved in a crime could provide such a detailed account of what occurred, allowing prosecutors to claim that only the defendant could have committed the crime.

An article by Professor Garrett draws on trial transcripts, recorded confessions and other background materials to show how incriminating facts got into those confessions — by police introducing important facts about the case, whether intentionally or unintentionally, during the interrogation.

To defense lawyers, the new research is eye opening. “In the past, if somebody confessed, that was the end,” said Peter J. Neufeld, a founder of the Innocence Project, an organization based in Manhattan. “You couldn’t imagine going forward.”

The notion that such detailed confessions might be deemed voluntary because the defendants were not beaten or coerced suggests that courts should not simply look at whether confessions are voluntary, Mr. Neufeld said. “They should look at whether they are reliable.”

Professor Garrett said he was surprised by the complexity of the confessions he studied. “I expected, and think people intuitively think, that a false confession would look flimsy,” like someone saying simply, “I did it,” he said.

Instead, he said, “almost all of these confessions looked uncannily reliable,” rich in telling detail that almost inevitably had to come from the police. “I had known that in a couple of these cases, contamination could have occurred,” he said, using a term in police circles for introducing facts into the interrogation process. “I didn’t expect to see that almost all of them had been contaminated.”

Of the exonerated defendants in the Garrett study, 26 — more than half — were “mentally disabled,” under 18 at the time or both. Most were subjected to lengthy, high-pressure interrogations, and none had a lawyer present. Thirteen of them were taken to the crime scene.

Mr. Lowery’s case shows how contamination occurs. He had come under suspicion, he now believes, because he had been partying and ran his car into a parked car the night of the rape, generating a police report. Officers grilled him for more than seven hours, insisting from the start that he had committed the crime.

Mr. Lowery took a lie detector test to prove he was innocent, but the officers told him that he had failed it.

“I didn’t know any way out of that, except to tell them what they wanted to hear,” he recalled. “And then get a lawyer to prove my innocence.”

Proving innocence after a confession, however, is rare. Eight of the defendants in Professor Garrett’s study had actually been cleared by DNA evidence before trial, but the courts convicted them anyway.

In one such case involving Jeffrey Deskovic, who spent 16 years in prison for a murder in Poughkeepsie, prosecutors argued that the victim may have been sexually active and so the DNA evidence may have come from another liaison she had. The prosecutors asked the jury to focus on Mr. Deskovic’s highly detailed confession and convict him.

While Professor Garrett suggests that leaking facts during interrogations is sometimes unintentional, Mr. Lowery said that the contamination of his questioning was clearly intentional.

After his initial confession, he said, the interrogators went over the crime with him in detail — asking how he did it, but correcting him when he got the facts wrong. How did he get in? “I said, ‘I kicked in the front door.’ ” But the rapist had used the back door, so he admitted to having gone around to the back. “They fed me the answers,” he recalled.

Some defendants’ confessions even include mistakes fed by the police. Earl Washington Jr., a mentally impaired man who spent 18 years in prison and came within hours of being executed for a murder he did not commit, stated in his confession that the victim had worn a halter top. In fact, she had worn a sundress, but an initial police report had stated that she wore a halter top.

Steven A. Drizin, the director of the Center on Wrongful Convictions at the Northwestern University School of Law, said the significance of contamination could not be understated. While errors might lead to wrongful arrest, “it’s contamination that is the primary factor in wrongful convictions,” he said. “Juries demand details from the suspect that make the confession appear to be reliable — that’s where these cases go south.”

Jim Trainum, a former policeman who now advises police departments on training officers to avoid false confessions, explained that few of them intend to contaminate an interrogation or convict the innocent.

“You become so fixated on ‘This is the right person, this is the guilty person’ that you tend to ignore everything else,” he said. The problem with false confessions, he said, is “the wrong person is still out there, and he’s able to reoffend.”

Mr. Trainum has become an advocate of videotaping entire interrogations. Requirements for recording confessions vary widely across the country. Ten states require videotaping of at least some interrogations, like those in crimes that carry the death penalty, and seven state supreme courts have required or strongly encouraged recording.

These days Mr. Lowery, 51, lives in suburban Kansas City, in a house he is renovating with some of the $7.5 million in settlement money he received, along with apologies from officials in Riley County, Kan., where he was arrested and interrogated.

He has trouble putting the past behind him. “I was embarrassed,” he said. “You run in to so many people who say, ‘I would never confess to a crime.’ ”

He does not argue with them, because he knows they did not experience what he went through. “You’ve never been in a situation so intense, and you’re na├»ve about your rights,” he said. “You don’t know what you’ll say to get out of that situation.”

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

NC Pastors & former DR Inmate Discuss Crime Lab Problems


Ed Chapman at an earlier press conference

Note link to Edward Chapman's larger story below this post and see several other posts on the NC Crime Lab topic for September 14 and 15th here on The Journey of Hope blogsite below:

NORTH CAROLINA:

Asheville pastors: SBI crime lab woes show need to eliminate death penalty

North Carolina's criminal justice system is so fraught with cheating that lawmakers should eliminate the death penalty to keep innocent people from being executed, local pastors and an exonerated death row inmate said Tuesday.

Speaking at a news conference in front of the Buncombe County Courthouse, participants said recent revelations about fraud in the State Bureau of Investigation crime lab only underscore an enduring problem.

"Our faith in the criminal justice system is shaken, but our resolve to make it better (is) not," said the Rev. Jim Abbott of St. Matthias' Episcopal Church. "We are deeply concerned innocent people may have been wrongly convicted."

Abbott and others cited a report issued last month concluding that the SBI crime lab omitted, overstated or falsely reported blood evidence in dozens of cases, including 3 that ended in executions.

The government-ordered inquest by 2 former FBI officials found that agents repeatedly aided prosecutors in obtaining convictions over a 16-year period, mostly by misrepresenting blood evidence and keeping critical notes from defense attorneys.

Edward Chapman, who was exonerated in 2008 after 14 years on death row and now lives in Asheville, said law enforcement mishandling of his case led to a wrongful murder conviction.

"I can tell you how innocent people get convicted," Chapman said. "Police lied and hid evidence. I am one of many men in North Carolina that has wrongly been convicted and sentenced to death."

The Rev. Joe Hoffman, pastor of First Congregational United Church of Christ, called on Gov. Bev Perdue to commute the sentence of death row inmates to life in prison.

"This system has exposed itself for what it is," Hoffman said. "Unfairness and racial injustice have been present in our system for a very long time. We do not end violence by being violent."

Jean Parks of the group Murder Victims' Families for Reconciliation said her sister was murdered, but she has doubt about the guilt of the man who was convicted.

"It doesn't help us if the wrong person is put in prison," he said. "How can we be so arrogant in maintaining the ultimate punishment?"

*********************

McDowell man faces death penalty in triple murder trial----Nebo slayings took place in '08

Jury selection began this week in the trial of a McDowell County man charged with a shooting rampage that took the lives of his own daughter, his girlfriend and the woman's daughter.

Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty for Stephen Monroe Buckner, 52, a former youth prison guard.

The killings took place at his home on U.S. 70 in the Nebo community the morning of Jan. 18, 2008. Authorities said the shootings apparently stemmed from a decision by his girlfriend, Vicky Lowery, to move out of the house.

Buckner is charged with 1st-degree murder in the deaths of Lowery, 42, her daughter, Chelsea Gregory, 14, and his daughter, Rebecca Rose Buckner, 25. Authorities said all 3 suffered multiple gunshot wounds.

If convicted of the charges, the McDowell County Superior Court jury will be asked to decide between the death penalty and life in prison without parole.

The defendant also is charged with attempted first-degree murder in the shooting of Gina Marie Edwards, a relative of Lowery. Edwards, 21, was shot in the arm but managed to escape and call for help from a neighbor's house.

"Everybody in my house has been shot, and he is trying to shoot me," the neighbor recalled Edwards as saying.

Deputies called to the scene were met with gunfire, resulting in charges against Buckner of 6 counts of assault with a deadly weapon with intent to kill.

The officers returned fire and struck Buckner, who a neighbor said staggered about 20 feet into his yard and collapsed. He spent several days at Mission Hospital being treated for his wounds.

According to a search warrant, Buckner told a deputy outside his house that "everyone inside was dead." Investigators seized about 60 items from the home, including a 12-gauge shotgun and a .357-caliber Magnum handgun. They also collected bullets, bullet fragments and blood samples.

The month before the slayings, Buckner left his job with the state Alcohol and Drug Abuse Treatment Center in Black Mountain. It was the end of a career in public service that started in 1988 and included 9 years as a corrections officer at the Western Youth Institute in Morganton.

(source for both: Asheville Citizen-Times & also posted at Dr. Rick Halperin's Death Penalty News & Updates)


Edward Chapman, Exonerated from NC Death Row
Speaking to Library audience in Brevard, NC
(along with Alex Chapman who is an attorney and death row activist)
Photo by Connie Nash

See Meet Exonerated from North Carolina's Death Row GO here with link to fuller Edward Chapman Story GO also here

Additional North Carolina Coverage: John Grisham, Edward Chapman and Others


John Grisham, best-selling author
- photo from wncdpr.wordpress.com

“It’s so far-sighted and progressive, it’s almost a dream,” Grisham said of North Carolina’s Innocence Commission.

Be sure also to see two related posts just below for September 14, 2010 and above for September 15th.

Please click and view the CBS affiliate video news coverage of the press conference featuring NC death row exoneree Edward Chapman; MVFR member Dr. Jean Parks and NC State Representative Patsy Keever: GO here

The ACT story this morning -- here -- was highlighted by the adjacent AP story about John Grisham's talk in Winston-Salem -- here

September 15, 2010 by wncdpr Leave a Comment

“Best-selling author John Grisham lauded a commission in North Carolina that evaluates prisoners claims of innocence, and said Tuesday that it would be duplicated across the country.

Grisham, known for his courtroom thrillers, has lended his celebrity and skills as a lawyer to national efforts to re-examine convictions where doubt exists.

John Grisham

“It’s so far-sighted and progressive, it’s almost a dream,” Grisham said of North Carolina’s Innocence Commission.

The commission earlier this year held hearings that led to the release of Greg Taylor, who spent 17 years in prison for a murder he didn’t commit.

Grisham, 55, has been involved in what he called the innocence movement ever since researching and writing a nonfiction book, “The Innocent Man,” about an Oklahoma man wrongly sentenced to death row.”

Full article here at wncdpr.wordpress.com GO here

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

NORTH CAROLINA: Press Conference on SBI Lab Findings Held in Asheville

Murder victims' family members, a North Carolina death row exoneree and a member of his defense team and People of Faith Against the Death Penalty -- among others -- commented on the findings of malfeasance at the SBI lab during a press conference in front of the Buncombe County courthouse at noon on Tuesday.

A report by two former FBI agents released last month suggests that over 200 cases are likely affected by the faulty and unscientific process at the SBI serology lab.

Glen Chapman says, "Mistakes were made in my case as far as withheld evidence, police officers fabricating evidence"

He says some of those mistakes cost him over 15 years of his life.

Chapman says, "Having all that time taken away from me, I can't get that back."

A jury found Chapman guilty of murdering 2 women in 1992 in Hickory, North Carolina. That same jury sentenced him to death. He was later exonerated and released from prison in 2008.

Now, he is one of the many who are bringing light to the errors at North Carolina’s crime lab.

Some of which, according to the FBI’s findings, cost people their life.

"2 of the death row inmates are dead. They were executed," says Chapman.

People showed up at Buncombe County Courthouse to express their concern over these findings at the SBI crime lab, but more importantly, they had a bigger message about the death penalty in North Carolina.

Asheville resident, Jean Parks says, "I'm extremely concerned that with a system riddled with so many problems that we are still maintaining the death penalty in North Carolina."

Representative Patsy Keever says, “I think the message is we've got a problem in North Carolina with SBI and we are unfairly putting people to death and obviously the people here today prefer that we not put anyone to death at all."

Representative Keever says that separating the SBI lab from law enforcement will help to prevent errors in the state crime lab.

She also says continuing the moratorium on the death penalty in North Carolina is crucial, at least until a more permanent decision on the death penalty can be made.

(source: WSPA)

John Grisham Asks: Why is Teresa Lewis on Death Row?

John Grisham

John Grisham: Teresa Lewis didn't pull the trigger. Why is she on death row?
Sunday, September 12, 2010

The Commonwealth of Virginia already has a serious relationship with its death penalty. In the past three decades, only Texas has executed more inmates. But on Sept. 23, the Old Dominion will enter new territory when it executes a female inmate for the first time in nearly a century.

To read the rest of Grisham's Op Ed and see related boxes GO here

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Also Posted: September 14, 2010 at Death Penalty Information Center (summary of the above Op Ed if no time to read in full now:

Acclaimed author John Grisham recently published an op-ed in the Washington Post questioning why Teresa Lewis is facing the death penalty when both her co-defendants, two men who actually committed the killings, were given life-without-parole sentences. According to Grisham, the judge who sentenced Lewis to death mistakenly believed that she was the “mastermind” behind the killings. However, it has now been revealed that her IQ of 72 makes her borderline intellectually disabled, that she suffered from a dependent personality disorder and other addictions, and that she lacked the basic skills necessary to organize a conspiracy to commit murder for hire. Grisham wrote, “In this case, as in so many capital cases, the imposition of a death sentence had little do with fairness. Like other death sentences, it depended more upon the assignment of judge and prosecutor, the location of the crime, the quality of the defense counsel, the speed with which a co-defendant struck a deal, the quality of each side's experts and other such factors. In Virginia, the law is hardly consistent."

CLICK here for short top story entitled NEW VOICES: John Grisham Asks-- Why is Teresa Lewis on Death Row?

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For other related URLS:

Teresa's Chaplain GO here

Death Penalty Information Center File GO here

For Dr. Rick Halperin's Death Penalty News & Updates GO here

Robi Damelin and Ali Abu Awwad: Sharing Sorrow and Healing

Robi Damelin lost her son David to a Palestinian sniper. Ali Abu Awwad lost his older brother Yousef to an Israeli soldier. But, instead of clinging to traditional ideologies and turning their pain into more violence, they've decided to understand the other side — Israeli and Palestinian — by sharing their pain and their humanity. They tell of a gathering network of survivors who share their grief, their stories of loved ones, and their ideas for lasting peace. They don't want to be right; they want to be honest. CLICK on Speaking of Faith's Public Radio Archive and website here from their February 14, 2008 Program...

The most recent program on this Radio Program just recently included Robi Damelin and Ali Abu Awwad's story among others GO to speaking of faith dot publicradio dot org and find more on this forgiving twosome on Ode Magazine Click here and/or Click here

Also see August 23, 2010 on this site

North Carolina State Crime Lab Under Scrutiny

GO here for the report - September 14, 2010 Listen to the Story on All Things Considered[3 min 57 sec] from WFAE In North Carolina, the state crime lab is under scrutiny after a state panel exonerated a man in February who served 17 years on a murder conviction. Now 230 more cases are suspect, including several people on death row.

Crime labs in Detroit and Houston have also had to face similar exposure and scrutiny.

"I Cannot Be Silent" By Leo Tolstoy

Tolstoy plowing. Although he was raised a rich man, he did much to help alleviate poverty, illiteracy and - with his writings perhaps - the rich justified in growing richer (without pause) while the poor grew poorer? (both photos from Wikimedia)

Tolstoy by Repin

Due to a Tolstoy story coming up in a marvelously engaging writers' group from another fan, I found reference to this work of Tolstoy's mentioned in a short bio in "The Portable Tolstoy". I just found this excerpt form on the internet. Some of these classic writers never die! If Tolstoy was so able to choose and to foresee what would capture a future audience's attention - may he also be able to see what he has brought to so many of us years hence and how we are still passing his writings along...Perhaps this way his rough ending may be somewhat smoothed in his "celestial memories" if there is anything akin to that? :)

Connie

nj.com

"I cannot be silent"
Published: Saturday, August 25, 2007,

Joseph G. Racioppi

Leo Tolstoy, the great Russian writer/philosopher, is famous primarily for the titanic novels War and Peace and Anna Karenina. What many people don't know is that Tolstoy spent the last thirty years of his life on religious and philosophical writings. He even corresponded with a young Mohandas Gandhi who may owe his idea of passive resistance to Tolstoy.

One of the best tracts I've read against the death penalty is Tolstoy's I cannot be silent (1908) In it, Tolstoy rails against government institutions and the church for their approval of capital punishment. Almost comically he describes an execution:

...Beside them walks a long-haired man, wearing a stole and vestments of gold or silver cloth and bearing a cross. The procession stops. The man in command of the whole business says something, the secretary reads a paper; and when the paper has been read the long-haired man, addressing those whom other people are about to strangle with cords, says something about God and Christ.

Immediately after these words the hangmen (there are several, for one man could not manage so complicated a business) dissolve some soap, and, having soaped the loops in the cords that they may tighten better, seize the shackled men, put shrouds on them, lead them to a scaffold, and place the well-soaped nooses around their necks.

And then, one after another, living men are pushed off the benches which are drawn from under their feet, and by their own weight suddenly tighten the nooses round their necks and are painfully strangled. Men, alive a minute before, become corpses dangling from a rope, at first swinging slowly and then resting motionless.

All this is carefully arranged and planned by learned and enlightened people of the upper class.

Tolstoy reminds the reader that government officials involved in this process - "from the lowest hangman to the highest official - all support religion and Christianity, which is altogether incompatible with the deed they commit."

All in favor of or against capital punishment should read this piece. I found it in The Portable Tolstoy, edited by John Bayley (1978). (P. 732)

Tolstoy was anti-war, anti-Church (he was excommunicated by the Russian Orthodox Church), and anti-capital punishment. Or to put it more positively, he was pro-nonviolence.

Although his writings are at least a century old, they are absolutely relevant today. For further reading see: The Law of Love and the Law of Violence (1908), Confession (1879), and Resurrection (1899-1900).

© 2010 NJ.com. All rights reserved.

Saturday, September 04, 2010

OHIO: Kevin Keith


Kevin Keith

This is the face of man whose life (many death penalty abolitionists & moratorium activists) helped save.

"It feels like the world has stopped...Our family has gone through a lot...I'd like to thank Governor Strickland for being a just man," said Kevin's older brother Charles upon hearing the news that his younger brother would live past September 15th--that he would live to embrace his family one more time and celebrate another birthday.

Thanks to supporters and activists like you, Ohio Governor Ted Strickland spared Kevin Keith from execution yesterday.

Strickland, who is facing a tough reelection battle and was presented with an 8-0 recommendation against clemency from the Ohio Parole Board, managed to see past political ambition and expediency and summoned the courage to do what was right. He recognized that the execution of an innocent man could not be undone. He weighed his options and cast his vote for life.

This heroic decision is a reminder that committed individuals can make a difference--that each and every one of our actions matter--that one life matters. If you feel moved to thank Governor Strickland, his contact info and a sample letter are below.

Thank you for standing with us as we work to end the death penalty. Thanks to you, the tide is turning.

Sincerely,
Stefanie Faucher
Associate Director

PS: Please consider supporting the crucial work of Death Penalty Focus. We could not do it without you.

Contact Info and Template Thank You Letter to Governor Strickland

Governor's Office
Riffe Center, 30th Floor
77 South High Street
Columbus, OH 43215-6108

Phone/Fax

General Info: (614) 466-3555
Fax: (614) 466-9354

Online: here

Dear Governor Strickland,

Thank you for granting clemency to Kevin Keith.

As you noted in your commutation statement, many legitimate questions have been raised regarding the evidence in support of Mr. Keith's conviction. This evidence of innocence was never presented in its entirety before any court or jury. It would have been a tragic mistake to execute Mr. Keith when such grave doubts linger about his guilt.

This year, you demonstrated your commitment to improving the fairness and accuracy of Ohio's criminal justice system by signing into law comprehensive reform legislation to combat wrongful convictions. By granting clemency to Mr. Keith, you upheld that commitment.

I commend you for recognizing that there is no room for error when a life is at stake.

Sincerely,

Death Pen Focus

When You Lose a Child (Compassionate Groups)



FAll Scene Vermont US here

First of all, listen to this touching telling of one couple's unthinkable story - so courageously and truthfully, eloquently spoken -- especially during this US Labor Day weekend when death by vehicle can be a kind of murder if done with too much drinking, etc. and leave scars for all...yet this also relates to parents/grandparents who lose children due to violent crime, war, floods, etc. Here's an AUDIO which just might inspire others to find or CREATE the same kind of gatherings...if not for healing exactly - for compassion and sharing of the grieving - anywhere in the world. With little if any funds needed, this is one beautiful way people can reach out to one another...

The story of grieving parents, their children and finding compassion - CLICK here

There are many ways parents lose their children. Years ago I was on a panel for a conference of bereaved parents. (Because I had written a book with my sister on the death of her daughter who was three-years old called "The Other Side of Sorrow" years ago when half the age I am now.) Next to me on the panel was a psychologist who worked in areas around the world which experienced catastrophe. She said the worst kind of grieving was parents who outlived their children - that this was an unusually hard-to-heal kind of grieving.

This "disconnect" - unnatural kind of premature bereavement - goes for parents and grand-parents who are murder victims family members who lose children to crime as well as those who lose children in war (as military or as civilians)- by violence in vehicular accidents - to neighborhoods fights or parties - or due to suicide and overdose.

This "unnatural loss" while tremendous for ALL is extra difficult for parents and grandparents who lose children in hurricanes, tornados, tsunamis or floods...

Here are various ways people who've lost children come together in prayer, empathy and sometimes to form community--even to form a kind of spiritual gathering which can't be found in many churches, synagogues, mosques, temples or other religious gatherings. There is room for many more such gatherings and connections...one on one and in larger movements..

Empathy and prayers needed for Pakistan victims of War and Floods...plz remember all the bereaved, especially parents, grandparents, spouses and children...some may call drones and those who operate murderers and do - not a good thing for either nation: here

Important Reports & Groups about losing loved ones in many contexts:

Love More to Suffer Less
As we remember to pray with and for the many bereaved parents and others from the various wars/occupations - soldiers and civilians on all sides: here

Pat Tillman's Family are Not Alone here

From one of my favorite sites on forgiveness: Singing About Revenge on Speaking of Faith blogsite here

Revenge and Forgiveness here

Bereaved Parents USA dot org here

Murder Victims Family Members for Human Rights MVFHR - great folk who practice Love more to Suffer Less! here

Murder Victims Families here

One of my favorite groups ever - what moving parents much like The Journey of Hope folk among Israelis and Palestinians with so much to teach the world!
The Parents Circle here

Last but by far not least: Be sure to see the stories on The Journey of Hope blogsite and website for other Bereaved parents who have not sought revenge.