I have experienced murder first hand. My 25 year old son Jumar Joiner was shot multiple times in Hartford on May 3, 2008 and died.
As a member of Mothers United Against Violence I want the people of our community – as well as legislators who make our laws – to know that the death penalty does not help victims’ families. It just makes them relive the horror, first with a long trial and then suffering through appeals that never end. We all know Connecticut does not use its death penalty. With only one execution in the last fifty years, the death penalty in Connecticut is nothing more than a farce.
At first, after my son’s murder, I wanted the killer dead. I suppose that’s a normal reaction for people. But after time, I realized that all I wanted was my son back. I searched my heart, and also found that I did not want another mother to lose her child.
What I do want is a criminal justice system that works. In my case, justice has been delayed because my son’s killer has not yet been charged. A man police call a suspect, a former friend of my son’s, was captured 6 months ago in New Mexico on other charges, but the investigation into my son’s murder remains unresolved.
While my son’s case goes unsolved, I can’t understand why we continue to spend money on a death penalty we don’t use. We already spend $4-million a year on it here in Connecticut. I can’t help but believe that those resources could have been better used for more detectives to help find my son’s killer faster, as well as to track down other unsolved murder cases. The money saved by getting rid of our state’s death penalty can also be used to help prevent future murders so that other mothers don’t lose their children.
There is a way forward that can help all victims. We can decide to stop spending so much money, time, and attention on a handful of capital cases and instead commit to focusing on real solutions to violence prevention and real services that all victims of homicide can benefit from.
It’s time for the state of Connecticut to stop wasting taxpayer money on a death penalty law that is nothing more than a grisly distraction from the real needs of so many victims like me. I am calling on our politicians to repeal the death penalty and use the resources we save to fight violence and help those affected by violence.
Pamela Joiner is the mother of Jumar Joiner who was murdered in 2008.