Choosing Mercy: A Mother of Murder Victims Pleads to End the Death Penalty

September 28, 2011

Journalist Antoinette Bosco (The Pummeled Heart) had her world overturned in 1993 when her son and daughter-in-law were shot to death while they slept. Their murder made no sense, even after the police arrested the 18-year-old son of the home’s previous owner. Although the killer did not receive the death penalty (and despite his evident lack of remorse), Bosco, a devout Catholic who had always opposed the death penalty, was troubled by the resolutely pro-capital-punishment stance espoused by many violent-crime survivors and their advocates. In this spiritually charged meditation on violence and punishment, she addresses difficult issues, ranging from a deeply flawed correctional system to whether the worst offenders possess the capacity to atone and be redeemed. Bosco recounts how she became involved in the debate as a journalist and a mother for her own healing unsentimentally describing how her resolute pro-life stand was sorely tested by her anger and grief and meeting others in her unfortunate position, including bestselling author Dominick Dunne, who forgave his daughter’s murderer. Her advocacy increased when she went public as a writer and speaker willing to uphold the seditious view that “unnatural death is an evil, no matter whose hand stops the breath,” and she includes here an appendix of books and organizations that argue against the death penalty. Bosco writes in a clear yet sometimes prolix fashion; much of her contemplation takes the form of wrestling with Christian biblical mandates, which may keep readers of other faiths at a distance. Even so, this is a brave, sustained and timely argument against capital punishment from one who has paid a heavy toll.

Bosco, Antoinette. Choosing Mercy: A Mother of Murder Victims Pleads to End the Death Penalty. Maryknoll, New York: Orbis Books, 2001.

ISBN 57075358X

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This resource originally was posted on the Catholics Against Capital Punishment (CACP) website, which was turned over to CMN in 2012. For more information on CACP’s history and other resources, click here.