National Victims’ Support Group Opening Charleston Office at Critical Time

Rev. Jack Sullivan, Jr., Executive Director of Murder Victims’ Families for Reconciliation

A national organization with a forty-year history of helping family members who have suffered a tragic loss through murder and of challenging use of the death penalty has opened a new office in Charleston, South Carolina.

The city will soon be the site of federal and state death penalty trials for Dylann Roof, a 22 year old white man, the suspected killer of nine black parishioners at the Mother Emanuel AME Church on June 17, 2015.

Murder Victims’ Families for Reconciliation (MVFR) will be offering its resources to those most deeply affected by the Charleston shootings through its new chapter in the city.

The members and staff of MVFR have personally been through similar tragedies in their own lives. That experience is important in their supportive outreach to others and in their efforts to educate the public about the needs of such families.

Rev. Jack Sullivan Jr., the group’s Executive Director, said MVFR “envisions a future where the death penalty is nonexistent, where families of homicide and execution receive care and support, and where restorative justice is common practice.” Rev. Sullivan said his group is aware that not all families in the affected community oppose the death penalty. “Our goal,” he said, “is to lessen the hurt that people are experiencing, regardless of their views on the appropriate punishment for the crime. Our experience at MVFR has been that the death penalty only perpetuates the pain of family members because of its years of delay and focus on the defendant. But we are here to listen to what everyone has to say. If we can make a difference in Charleston, it could serve as a model for other communities across the country that have also been steeped in both loss and racial injustice.”

He said the courageous statements by two Mother Emanuel family members publicly forgiving Dylann Roof shortly after the murders inspired MVFR to establish an office in Charleston. The Rev. Edward Ducree will be the chapter’s co-organizer in the city and will particularly focus on the needs of children and adolescents directly affected by the shootings. Co-organizer Deirdre Douglas-Hubbard will provide family therapy and other vital resources to strengthen underserved families. MVFR, through its staff and local Advisory Team, will work on public education, violence prevention, parental training, and after-school programs in collaboration with the Palmetto Community Action Partnership.

MVFR’s initiative in Charleston is funded by grants from the Fund for Non-Violence and the Themis Fund. Website:; Twitter: @MVFRUS; Facebook:; Charleston Chapter of MVFR: 602 Rutledge Ave., Charleston, SC, 29403

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