Asheville Citizen Times: More important to get justice right than quick.

By WNCDPR Leader Jean Parks,

“I appreciate victims’ rights being brought into the ongoing discussion about the death penalty (“Victims’ rights,” AC-T letters, Sept. 29), however, I challenge the implication that murder victims’ families support the death penalty. Some victims’ families do, but many of us do not. My sister was murdered in Raleigh in 1975. I was relieved at the time that the death penalty was not considered for the defendant. I’m more relieved now because I learned recently the convicted man might be the wrong man. What I need as a victim is that the devastating harm to my sister and her family be recognized, that the right person(s) be identified, held accountable and prevented from killing again, and that the investigation be done and a resolution be reached in a timely way. But it is more important to get it right than to get it quickly. Even if the authorities got the right guy, I would find no peace in another life being ended. I believe in the sanctity of all human lives, even the worst of the worst. It is a true burden to me that many supporters of the death penalty claim execution is necessary for families to feel justice has been done.”

Available here: More important to get justice right than quick


Hopes Perdue will veto attempt to repeal Racial Justice Act

Hopes Perdue will veto attempt to repeal Racial Justice Act

Written by

Jean Parks, Fletcher

11:13 AM, Jun. 14, 2011|

In 2009, I worked hard to help get the Racial Justice Act passed. That was before I learned that the man serving time for my sister’s murder might have been wrongfully convicted by a Wake County jury. If he is in fact innocent, I believe unconscious racial bias may have played a role in his conviction.

So I am now an even more ardent supporter of the RJA. I know the law only applies to death penalty cases currently, and this inmate was not sentenced to death, but we have to start somewhere to eliminate the conscious and unconscious bias in our legal system that is our heritage as Americans.

Recent studies clearly demonstrate that racial bias is present in NC’s practice of capital punishment. Our legislators have a civil and moral duty to correct that injustice by preserving the RJA in its current form. If they fail that duty, I hope and pray Governor Perdue will veto their attempt to repeal the RJA.|newswell|text|Frontpage||newswell|text|Frontpage|p

News&Record: Opinion: Better choices than the death penalty

By Dr. Jean Parks

“I am writing in response to the article “Study ties race to death penalty” (Aug. 15). Specifically, I am concerned about the comments of Tom Bennett of the N.C. Victim Assistance Network.

He appeared to be speaking for all family members of murder victims when he said we don’t care about studies and averages concerning how the death penalty is imposed and that the death penalty shows society’s respect for survivors and puts some value on the life of the murdered person.

Mr. Bennett does not speak for me. My sister was murdered in Raleigh in 1975. The man convicted of her murder was sentenced to life in prison. I strongly oppose the death penalty and was relieved that he was not sentenced to die.

I feel offended whenever anyone suggests that the death penalty should be imposed for the benefit of victims’ family members. The execution of the murderer would not ease any of my grief. If you support the death penalty, please do not advocate for it in my name.

The death penalty perpetuates the violence in our society and creates another grieving family. As long as N.C. continues to have the death penalty, it is critical that we impose it fairly, without racial bias, conscious or unconscious. I am proud that legislators passed the Racial Justice Act to make it possible for those facing execution to use statistical evidence to demonstrate bias if it exists. That’s why we need the research and studies.

I know other North Carolinians who have lost a loved one to murder and oppose the death penalty. If N.C. citizens want to show respect to our families and value our loved ones’ lives, there are many things they can do instead of killing more people.

For example, N.C. could make counseling free and easily accessible to survivors. The state could fund enough victim advocates so that all families receive adequate information and preparation before a trial begins and develop a victim-offender dialogue program so that the family members who wish to do so can talk to the murderer in a safe and controlled encounter.

The money N.C. spends on the death penalty for trials, appeals and executions could instead be spent on violence prevention and offender intervention programs such as the Juvenile Justice Project at Campbell University. Preventing violent crime is something that would truly honor our loved ones.”

«Better choices than the death penalty

The original article this is in response to:

«Study ties race to death penalty