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Tuesday, February 18, 2020

01-2004 the Vision

Journey of Hope: From Violence to Healing
By: Brooke Matschek  
    A fundamental argument for those in favor of the death penalty is that it provides “justice” or “closure” to the family and friends of murder victims – that it is necessary to assuage their grief.  However, there are many murder victim family members who reject this policy of vengeance and are working to end capital punishment.
    The Journey of Hope: From Violence to Healing is an educational speaking tour founded and led by murder victim family members who oppose the death penalty.  In its place, they have chosen love and compassion for all of humanity, and forgiveness as a path to healing.
    Journey “storytellers” come from all walks of life and represent the full spectrum and diversity of faith, race, and economic situations.  They know firsthand the aftermath of the insanity and horror of murder.  In Sunday school classes, high school assemblies, community centers, rallies, concerts and more, they recount their tragedies and their struggles to heal as a way of opening dialogue on the death penalty.
    This fall, the Journey traveled throughout Ohio and northern Kentucky.  At more than 160 events spanning 17 days, Journey participants – murder victim family members, friends and family of people on death row, exonerated death row inmates, and activists – shared their personal stories of healing, forgiveness, and love.
    In addition to the many school, community and church presentation that Journey participants facilitated in twos or threes, there were several group vigils, marches and flagship events.
    At the beginning of the Journey on Saturday, September 27th, more than fifty people gathered for a vigil outside Southern Ohio Correctional Facility in Lucasville – the site of Ohio executions.
    On Sunday, September 28 the official kick-off took place at St. John’s Catholic Church near Cincinnati.  The event featured Sister Helen Prejean, author of Dead Man Walking; Bill Pelke, one of the Journey founders; music by MUSE Cincinnati’s Women’s Choir; music by Charlie King and Karen Brandow; and the introduction of Journey participants.
    On Wednesday, October 1, another vigil was held at Mansfield Correctional Institution, the prison where most of Ohio’s death row prisoners are held.  In addition to hearing from murder victim family members and the family of those currently on death row, Juan Melendez, who spent 17 years on Florida’s death row before being exonerated, was able to tell his story.
    The Journey culminated with a rally outside the State House in Columbus, Ohio’s capital.  Protesting Ohio’s continued use of capital punishment, the crowd called upon elected leaders to put a halt to the death penalty.  Organizations such as Amnesty International and the American Friends Service Committee joined the Journey of Hope in their cries for justice.
    For more information on bringing a Journey event to your community call 1-877-924-GIVE (4483) or visit  To learn more about murder victim families who oppose the violence of capital punishment contact Murder Victim Families for Reconciliation at 617-868-0007, visit or write 2161 Massachusetts Avenue, Cambridge, MA 02140.