Doris is from Illinois and shared her story for the 2016 release of Crime Survivors Speak: The First-Ever National Survey of Victims’ Views:
Three days after my son was killed, I publicly forgave the perpetrator. I didn’t know who did it, but I knew many of my son’s friends would be at the vigil where I declared my forgiveness, young people who were angry and in pain. I did not want to provoke vengeance or retribution. More violence would not bring my beloved son back. I also thought about the mother of the person who killed my son. She was suffering, too; her child took someone’s life. I didn’t want to add to that pain. There isn’t a lot of support for mothers who’ve lost their kids to violence. So, in 2013, I decided to form an organization to meet that need. Padres Angeles (Parents of Angels) conducts street outreach, supports parents who’ve lost their children, and holds workshops to strengthen family communication and relationships. We also organize vigils and marches to respond to community violence. By helping other families, I found healing for myself. I believe that violence is a complex issue that requires a varied and coordinated response — much like treating a cancer patient with surgery, chemotherapy and radiation. The current criminal justice system’s one-size-fits-all approach doesn’t work for low-income communities of color. Instead of jails and prisons, we need more emphasis on rehabilitation to help people turn their lives around.