“There’s a tremendous amount of trauma caused by both murders and executions—a fact that’s not recognized in either case,” Adcock says. “The fallout from the time of the murder to the trial to the execution leads to great suffering, and many people need attention and healing and some hope for the future.”
CRJP works closely with Durham Congregations In Action, Project Compassion in Chapel Hill, and individuals including Marty Price of Asheville’s Victim-Offender Reconciliation Project. Their partners also include The Religious Coalition for a Nonviolent Durham and Parents of Murdered Children.
To date, the project is organized into four healing circles—one each for families of victims; families of offenders; professionals who work on capital cases (attorneys, clergy, victim advocates); and others traumatized by the cycle of violence.
Bringing together families of victims and offenders has not seemed beneficial, at least not yet. “That would take a lot of specialized training and would definitely have to be victim family-driven,” Reynolds says.
Admittedly improvising funding for CRJP, Reynolds and Wilson-Hartgrove at one point had six part-time jobs between them in addition to working on the project. First Presbyterian Church recently offered them free office space, which means the women can move their daily consultations from Broad Street Café to a more permanent space. They’ve also received donations of office equipment as well as help from area professionals, such as an accountant who set up their books and a volunteer who created their Web site.
“It’s a start,” says Reynolds, who dreams of a comprehensive organization that would some day include researchers, lawyers, counselors and a variety of other services that CRJP is now too small to address.
Each of the women brings specific strengths to the project. “I’m the dreamer, the idealist—I can speak with passion and conviction about the work,” says Reynolds.
“Leah is the realist, who believes as I do but who will bring me down to earth when I need it.”
A native North Carolinian and graduate of Meredith College, Reynolds maintains a long-standing interest in drama, and she will act this fall in a Justice Theater Project play organized by St. Francis of Assisi Church of Raleigh.
“It’s one thing to hear a story, but when you see it played out on the stage before you, you really understand and feel the emotion, the pain,” she says.