Death penalty and victim-family closure

Naseem Rakha; 11/11/09

Of all the arguments in support of capital punishment, perhaps the most emotionally compelling is that it provides “closure” for the loved ones of murder victims. Prosecuting attorneys, politicians and journalists commonly refer to how executions allow family members to “move on” from their pain, providing a sense of relief at knowing that “justice” was finally served. “Beltway sniper” John Allen Muhammad was executed Tuesday night for his role in the October 2002 sniper shootings in which 16 Washington-area residents were shot, and 10 killed. Among those who attended his execution were more than 20 family members of the victims. Did watching the killer die help any of those relatives move on with their lives?