Lindsey is from Texas and shared her story for the 2016 release of Crime Survivors Speak: The First-Ever National Survey of Victims’ Views: It took days before my family and I found out that my sister was killed by her husband. At first, we thought she died in a car accident. It took even longer — throughout the trial — to get the full picture of what happened that day. We now know that my sister and her husband were arguing. In the heat of the moment, he shot and killed her. My family received no information, support, or a sense of collaboration with officials handling my sister’s case. In the immediate aftermath of her death, we had to struggle just to get custody of my nephew. We didn’t know who to go to for information or how to get help. To this day, no one in my family, except my nephew, has received counseling. But the trauma has affected us all. Victims and families need help recovering from crime. I’ve also come to realize that focusing too much on punishment can cause us to lose sight of the big picture. Initially, I was very angry at my brother-in-law and wanted retribution. But with time, I began to think about how the system had failed us all. My brother-in-law had substance abuse addiction issues and had been incarcerated. Did his drug addiction and experience in prison play a role in his loss of control? He’s not a bad person. Public safety must be the top priority. But I believe we can best achieve that by helping those with substance abuse and mental health problems. Our criminal justice system should do more to help rehabilitate people like my brother-in-law instead of making them worse off and more likely to commit crimes.

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