D.C. sniper speaks 10 years after violence: Can restorative justice apply here?
Oct 23, 2012
It’s been 10 years since the D.C. sniper took 10 lives and wounded three. The following are two stories (including one audio tape) from Josh White of the Washington Post (September 29, 2012) interviewing Lee Boyd Malvo, the young killer who voluntarily did the bidding of John Allen Muhammad. Malvo and Muhammad went on a killing spree that lasted 23 days in October 2002 terrorizing the victims and their families and all who lived in the D.C. region. As we provide a link to these stories we think of the victims and the victims’ families. We also consider the words of Lee Boyd Malvo who tells his victims “to forget him.” Can restorative justice be applied here? Could the victims or their families choose restorative justice now in this case?
Malvo states the following in one interview, “There’s nothing I can say, no apologies. There’s nothing I can say except that don’t allow my actions to continue to victimize your life.” We would say that restorative justice could very well apply in this case because the victims or victims’ families have questions. Malvo would like them to move on with their lives but whatever healing that might be possible, beyond any healing that might have occurred before this time, could happen if restorative justice was an option.
In the interview Malvo states, “I am sorry. I am sorry–there’s no way to express…I mean what am I going ot tell them. I’m sorry I murderd your only child. I’m sorry I murdered your husband…”
From our experience working with victims of violent crime often they do want to hear just that—I’m sorry. If it never has been expressed by an offender it is important. There is healing in the expression of true remorse. But as I said, there are questions that the victims or victims’ families have that go unanswered. Yet the offender has the answers to questions that a victim would ask such as how a loved one looked when they were killed, what the loved one said at the end, why they were chosen as victims by the offender, and there are more. These are terrible questions that go unanswered.
Could restorative justice apply here to this case with Lee Boyd Malvo? We do not know. But there is always a chance for more healing in the victim or their families. Offenders can take responsibility for their actions even when they are in prison, as in this case. The question is do the victims have the choice to choose restorative justice? Have they heard of restorative justice? RJI is willing to assist in this case and cases like it if asked.