The National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty established Rachel’s Fund in the memory of Rachel King, a leading abolitionist. Rachel, through her writing and advocacy, sought to create a better understanding of the needs of families of murder victims and families of people on death row. It is Rachel’s vision of communities coming together to promote healing and to change public policy on the death penalty that our Rachel’s Fund program is intended to promote.
As part of this vision, the National Coalition developed the following materials to help its affiliate organizations across the country to work more effectively with murder victims’ family members and the organizations that serve their needs:
This eight-page resource describes the trauma experienced by family members of murder victims – including the physical and emotional responses to trauma. This type of trauma complicates the natural grieving process since murder victims’ family members often need to deal with the police, prosecutor, judicial system, and media in addition to the loss of a loved one. As a result, family members have unique challenges to overcome in their lives. This document also provides suggestions about supporting the families of murder victims through the careful use of language and basic insights from crisis intervention.
This six-page resource was initially designed as a hand-out for a workshop at the 2011 national conference of the National Coalition. It explains the benefits and challenges that family members of murder victims face when speaking publicly about their experiences. The document describes how abolitionists can help these family members to prepare for speaking events, support them during their presentation, and follow-up with them afterwards.