42-minute documentary tells four stories of murder victims' families
reliving the crimes and confronting the loss of loved ones. Their
instinct for revenge during trial and the debate for punishment by
death climaxes in a search to forgive and heal.
Filmmakers Jacqui Lofaro & Victor Teich Awarded Thurgood Marshall Journalism Award for Excellence in Coverage of Capital Punishment
The Death Penalty Information Center's 10th annnual Thurgood Marshall Journalism Awards,
held at the National Press Club in Washington DC on June 26, 2006,
honored journalists who have made exceptional contributions to the
undersanding of problems associated with capital punishment. This
year's award recipients included Jacqui Lofaro and Victor Teich of
Justice Productions for their documentary THE EMPTY CHAIR.
Empty Chair, 5 years in the making debuted at the Hamptons
International Film Festival in 2003 and was later invited to screen at
the Vermont International Human Rights Film Festival. Amnesty
International selected the documentary to screen in 700 locations
across the country during the National Weekend of Faith in Action in
2005 and 2006. DPIC awarded the film the prestigious Thurgood Marshall
Broadcast Journalism Award in 2006.
EMPTY CHAIR is a 42-minute documentary film that intimately reveals a
rarely seen view of murder's aftermath: families left behind, their
lives torn apart by the random loss of a loved one.
The Empty Chair tells four stories of murder victims' families reliving
the crimes and confronting the loss of loved ones. Their instinct for
revenge during trial and the debate for punishment by death climaxes in
a search to forgive and heal.
Norton - her step-parents are murdered yet she is compelled not only to
forgive the killer, but to forge a friendship with him.
Renny Cushing - his father is shot gunned to death yet he lobbies for victims' rights and against the death penalty.
& Peter Lowenstein - their 21-year old son is bombed out of the sky
over Lockerbie but they can never forgive the terrorists.
Susan Gove Ramunda - her daughter is bludgeoned to death and she works tirelessly to keep the death penalty state law.
powerful emotional impact of the film provoked serious discussion about
the death penalty. The pain, sadness, strength and spirit of the four
families involved evoked numerous letters of gratitude and new
commitment to join this struggle."
Blanche Wiesen Cook, Professor at John Jay College and author of Eleanor Roosevelt biographies
"It brought me into an emotional relationship with the death penalty issues, which is so different from an intellectual one."
was no moralistic voice-over narration to interfere with the flow of
expressed pain, sadness, strength and spirit in the four stories."
"It makes life out of death."
"Hearing directly from murder victims' families created an incredible intimacy with them."
"It is powerful because it is STORY and because the stories are sheer humanness."
"Presents an unflinching yet dignified glimpse into lives forever changed."
Michael Colello, SOUTHAMPTON INDEPENDENT
"A documentary that considers all sides of the story."
Carissa Katz, THE EASTHAMPTON STAR
any of us are taken by violence, by death, the chair at the table
becomes empty because none of us can ever be replaced."
Sister Helen Prejean, author "DEAD MAN WALKING"
THE EMPTY CHAIR Take Action
These resources offer both information and direct actions for our viewers.
in 1976, Murder Victims' Families for Reconciliation is a national
organization of family members of both homicide and state killings who
oppose the death penalty in all cases. For more information, go to:
in 2005, Murder Victims' Families for Human Rights, pledged victims'
family members and other allies to end the death penalty around the
world. For more information, go to: www.murdervictimsfamilies.org
RESTORATIVE JUSTICE Restorative
Justice is a systematic response to wrongdoing that emphasizes healing
the wounds of victims, offenders and communities caused or revealed by
the criminal behavior. Practices and programs reflecting restorative
purposes will respond to crime by: (a) identifying and taking steps to
repair harm, (b) involving all stakeholders, and (c) transforming the
traditional relationship between communities and their governments in
responding to crime. For more information, go to: http://www.restorativejustice.org/
There are a number of national efforts and organizations focused on ending the death penalty.
the American Civic Liberties Union efforts to pass the National Death
Penalty Moratorium Act (S. 132), seeking to correct the flaws in the
capital punishment system and prevent any additional executions from
taking place until these problems are addressed.
its own study showing racial and geographic disparities in the use of
the federal death penalty, the U.S. government continues to carry out
executions. In the past year, federal judges in New York and Vermont
have ruled the federal death penalty unconstitutional because of
concerns ranging from the likelihood of executing someone who is
actually innocent to the lack of due process safeguards in the 1994
Federal Death Penalty Act. http://www.aclu.org/DeathPenalty/DeathPenalty.cfm?ID=9960&c=67
Amnesty International Founded
in London in 1961, Amnesty International is a Nobel Prize-winning
grassroots activist organization with over 1.8 million members
worldwide. Amnesty International undertakes research and action focused
on preventing and ending grave abuses of the rights to physical and
mental integrity, freedom of conscience and expression, and freedom
from discrimination, within the context of its work to promote all
human rights. One of their major campaigns is an effort to abolish the
death penalty. For more information, go to: http://www.amnestyusa.org/abolish/index.do
Death Penalty Information Center The
Death Penalty Information Center is a non-profit organization serving
the media and the public with analysis and information on issues
concerning capital punishment. For more information, go to: http://www.deathpenaltyinfo.org/
Learn about the organizations committed to retaining the death penalty.
Criminal Justice Legal Foundation was established in 1982 as a
nonprofit, public interest law organization dedicated to restoring a
balance between the rights of crime victims and the criminally accused.
The Foundation's purpose is to assure that people who are guilty of
committing crimes receive swift and certain punishment in an orderly
and thoroughly constitutional manner. For more information, go to: http://www.cjlf.org/
National Association of Police Organizations (NAPO) is a coalition of
police unions and associations from across the United States that
serves to advance the interests of America's law enforcement officers
through legislative and legal advocacy, political action and education.
For more information, go to: http://www.napo.org/