Virginians Should Work With Journey of Hope to End State Death Penalty

Governor Terry McAuliffe’s cynical gambit to shield the identities of the drug companies, which supply drugs used in executions will make Virginia’s executions more secretive, especially when you consider they’re already carried out and witnessed by few persons in relative obscurity.

This lack of transparency and accountability should trouble even Virginians who support capital punishment.

Moreover, reputable pharmaceutical companies won’t participate in McAuliffe’s scheme. As Leonard Edloe, President of the American Pharmacists Association Foundation said: McAuliffe’s ploy “undermines everything our profession stands for. Medicines are made to save lives, not end them.”

Industry actions consistently uphold this ethic. The huge pharmaceutical company Pfizer, for instance, recently decided it wouldn’t provide execution drugs any longer, closing the open market for these drugs.

Resisting McAuliffe’s untenable, likely illegal and immoral maneuver Virginians should compel him and his legislative allies to acknowledge Virginia’s death system is dying.

Since capital punishment’s 1976 reinstatement, Virginia has executed 111 persons, the second highest state total in the country. Now, however, only 7 persons are on Virginia’s death row, and Virginia juries haven’t handed down any death sentences since 2011.

With drugs necessary for executions and persons to execute increasingly and practically non-existent, it’s a matter of time before the state ends executions.

More than changing political leaders’ minds, to end Virginia’s death penalty will require changing Virginians’ hearts as well. To move Virginians to support abolition, Virginia death penalty opponents should work with the Journey of Hope, which will be in Northern Virginia June 26 -28.

To learn about the Northern Virginia speaking tour please read the attached.

Journey of Hope members’ stories will convince Virginians to support abolition. Begun in 1993, and led by murder victim family members, this national organization conducts educational tours against the death penalty.

These tours emphasize love, compassion, forgiveness and reconciliation to break the cycle of vengeance, death, and violence prevalent in our society. Marietta Jaeger’s story represents their message well.


Marietta Jaeger’s journey took her from revenge to forgiveness.

In the summer of 1972, Marietta and her family were on a camping trip in Montana. On the trip’s first night, Marietta stepped over others to reach her youngest child 7-year old Susie to hug her goodnight.

“Oh, mama, not like that,” Susie said when Marietta couldn’t quite wrap her arms around her young daughter. Marietta hugged the insistent Susie and kissed her good night. It was the last time they embraced.

In the middle of the night, a man slit their tent and kidnapped Susie. At the time, Marietta said, “I could kill him with my bare hands and a smile on my face.” A year passed before Marietta discovered Susie’s fate. The kidnapper had raped and killed her.

In that year, Marietta’s Catholic faith helped move her past her rage and desire for revenge. It called her to love her enemy. When the kidnapper called to taunt her on the anniversary of taking Susie, Marietta realized the God in whom she believed viewed Susie’s captor to be as precious as Susie.

Marietta’s compassion for the man, as they talked that night, helped establish the evidence investigators needed to charge him. Marietta believed state killing for Susie’s killer would only add another victim and grieving family and wouldn’t honor Susie’s memory.           

Marietta and other Journey members re-live the worst experiences of their lives to show us the way to peace. Virginians who want peace should embrace the Journey’s message of love and compassion for all of humanity and gently usher Virginia’s death penalty out the door.