Sister of murdered man wants money put towards executions to be used to help victims' families

Woman wants funding to help murder victims' families

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KTHV) -- When families hear their loved ones have become a victim of homicide, they're often left unsure where to turn for help.

One woman whose brother was murdered in 1968 is against the death penalty, partly because she wants funds put towards helping victims’ families instead of sentencing the accused to death. In a special report, we told you the Arkansas Public Defender Commission can spend an estimate of $75,000 - $100,000 more in cases where the death penalty is sought. Judith Elane thinks that money can be better spent.

"The death penalty has never made any sense to me. I recall as a young person encountering, why do we kill people who kill people to teach killing people is wrong?” said Elane.

While an advocate to abolish the death penalty, Elane knows the pain of losing a brother to murder.

“The needs, especially for support emotionally and psychologically and even financially, are immediate," said Elane.

Joyce Raynor has felt the same grief after her 23-year-old son was murdered in 2001.

"You're so grief stricken, you don’t really know what you need," said Raynor, the Executive Director of the Center for Healing Hearts and Spirits.

She was made aware of help available for people in her shoes. There are resources for murder victims families through the Arkansas Crime Victims Reparations Board. They'll provide funding for funerals, medical costs, even counseling.

"We do need mental health counseling. It was very important for me when I lost a son and we encourage it," said Raynor.

But trying to find all of the outlets for support and help is overwhelming. That’s why Rayner started the Center for Healing Hearts and Spirits.

"While going through the tragedy I learned that there are so many services out there but most people didn’t have a clue they were out there," said Raynor.

She works with the Attorney General’s Office, law enforcement, and faith based communities to reach these families. The Attorney General’s office website said victims may qualify for up to $10,000 to help with a number of needs.

Elane admires the services for families, but said it needs to be readily available and she thinks more funds could help.

“Because of the millions of dollars that it costs to prosecute a death case, I’d like to see the perpetrators punished with life in prison and use the money to help people like my family," said Elane.

To apply for this help, a form has to be submitted within a year. That's where the Center for Healing Hearts and Spirits come in. They'll help you with forms and put you in touch with support groups.

© 2017 KTHV-TV


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