The Officers of MVFHR
(Click on MORE for complete bios,
photos, and personal links)
Renny Cushing is the founder and Executive Director of
Murder Victims Families for Human Rights. His fathers murder in 1988 has shaped his work as an advocate for crime
victims and as an opponent of capital punishment.
victim-abolitionist Renny has been a pioneer in the effort to bridge death
penalty abolition groups and the victims rights movement. He travels throughout
the U.S. and the world speaking with and on behalf of victims who oppose capital
Bill Babbitt was present at
San Quentin prison when at one minute after midnight on May 4th, 1999
the state of California executed his brother, Manny Babbitt.
Manny, the recipient of a
Purple Heart for his service in Vietnam, was a paranoid schizophrenic who
suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder. He had been tried and convicted
for the murder of an elderly woman who had died of a heart attack after a
break-in and beating.
When Bill realized that his
brother could possibly be involved in the womans death, he contacted the police
and helped them arrest his brother. In return, the police promised Bill that
Manny would receive the psychological help that he needed and that they would
help see that Manny would not receive the death penalty. Bill felt certain that
when confronted with the reality of Mannys mental illness, the justice
system would hand down a fair sentence but avoid death. He was wrong.
Jeanne Bishop is the
sister of Nancy Bishop Langert, who was shot to death along with her
husband and their unborn child in 1990. Bishop has testified before
Illinois the Governorís Commission on Capital Punishment, the Illinois
Prisoner Review Board, and several state legislative committees.
Rev. Walter Everett
In 1987 Walt Everetts son, Scott, was shot and killed at
the age of 24. For almost a year afterwards, Walts emotional state moved from
rage to depression. He found it difficult to even go through the motions of his
work as pastor of a United Methodist Church.
It was only at the sentencing when he heard Mike Carlucci
express remorse for killing Scott that Walt felt God nudging him towards
forgiveness. Walt describes this journey as the most difficult thing he has ever
had to do. MORE
Toshi Kazama is a photographer whose searing photographs of
young people on death row bring a level of immediacy to the abolition debate that
is often missing.
The New York-based photographer worked eight years
gathering the images for Youth of Death Row: A Documentary Exploration and
then toured venues including many college campuses to educate audiences to the
truth about the death penalty. MORE
Robert Meeropol is the Executive Director of the Rosenberg
Fund for Children. He is the younger son of Julius and Ethel Rosenberg, who in
1953 were executed by the United States Government for conspiring to steal the
secret of the atomic bomb.
Orphaned at age six, Robert was adopted by the family
whose name he bears. He holds undergraduate and graduate degrees in Anthropology
from the University of Michigan and graduated law school in 1985 and was
admitted to the Massachusetts Bar. MORE
Bill Pelke is president and co-founder of Journey of Hope
from Violence to
Healing, an organization led by murder victim family members who oppose the
death penalty. Bill is the chairman of the board of the National Coalition to
Abolish the Death Penalty and has been a board member since 1996. He is also a
board member of Alaskans Against the Death Penalty. He has spoken against the
death penalty across the U.S. and in 10 countries.
Vicki Schieber - Chair
Vicki Schiebers daughter, Shannon, was raped and murdered
on May 7, 1998 while finishing her first year of graduate school on a full
scholarship at the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania.
Shannons killer was not arrested until 2002. He is
serving several life sentences without parole in Colorado and Pennsylvania not
only for Shannons rape and murder but for 13 other sexual assaults as well.
Vicki and her husband, Sylvester, both Maryland residents,
testified in support of a Maryland bill that would extend that states
moratorium on executions and create a commission to study the way the death
penalty is imposed. She also testified in Pennsylvania for the abolition of the
death penalty alongside former Illinois governor George Ryan and exonerated
former death row inmates, including Kirk Bloodsworth.
Bud Welch - President of the Board
On April 19, 1995, Bud Welchs 23-year old daughter, Julie,
and 167 others were killed in the bomb blast that destroyed the Alfred P. Murrah
building in Oklahoma City.
Bud had always opposed the death penalty but Julies death
prompted bouts of anger, pain, hatred and revenge. He longed to see Timothy
McVeigh (who was eventually tried and convicted of the bombing and executed)
After months of agony Bud began to question his desire for
revenge. He realized that nothing positive would arise from McVeighs execution.
It was hatred and revenge that made me want to see him dead and those two
things were the very reason that Julie and 167 others were dead, he says. He
also remembered Julies comments that executions were only teaching children to
Kate Lowenstein -
Kate is an attorney and social worker with
five years of experience organizing and advocating for victims who oppose
the death penalty. In 2004, Kate co-wrote amicus curiae
briefs on behalf of victims' family members in two high-profile cases that
were before the U.S. Supreme Court: Schriro v. Summerlin and
Roper v. Simmons. In her work with MVFHR, Kate contributes
expert knowledge about vicims' rights issues and death penalty abolition
work and keen sensitivity to the issues involved in working with victims
and helping them to assert their rights and become effective spokespeople
against the death penalty.
Susannah Sheffer -
Susannah has developed numerous written
materials about victim opposition to the death penalty, including
Dignity Denied: The Experience of Murder Victims' Family Members Who
Oppose the Death Penalty and "I Don't Want Another Kid to Die":
Families of Victims Murdered by Juveniles Oppose the Juvenile Death
Penalty, both of which were co-authored with Renny Cushing. She
is the author of four books, and in her work with MVFHR she draws upon two
decades of experience interviewing, writing, and editing.
Priscilla Caputo -
Administrative Staff, has worked for several
years with families and victims of oppression and violence developing and
directing a variety of clinical and community programs to provide support
and equal access to crucial services within the medical, legal, and social
service systems. She is a counselor, educator, and committed human rights