Editor's note: Jeanne Bishop is the sister of Nancy Bishop Langert, who, along with her husband and their unborn child, was shot to death by a juvenile. Since the murder of her family members, Jeanne Bishop has been an advocate for gun violence prevention, forgiveness and abolition of the death penalty. She is a criminal defense attorney in Chicago.
By Jeanne Bishop, Special to CNN
(CNN) - I have been paying close attention to the changes coming since the U.S. Supreme Court struck down any mandatory life sentences for juveniles who kill. A teenager killed my sister.
He killed her dream, too. She wanted to be a mom.
My sister Nancy married young. She was overjoyed when she got pregnant at age 25.
That dream died three months later, when she and her husband walked through the front door of their home and found their killer waiting for them.
He was a 16-year-old with a history of violence. He wanted to see what it was like to kill someone. He found out when he broke in and shot Nancy, Richard and their unborn baby and left them to die on a cold basement floor.
When the killer was arrested, details emerged that turned my stomach. He had joked about murdering my family members, even attended their funeral.
When he was convicted of the murders, he was remorseless. When he was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole, I was glad.
After sentencing, my mother turned to me in the courtroom and said, “We’ll never see him again.” I was glad of that, too. I wanted to wipe him off my hands like dirt.
I never spoke his name. I wanted his name to die and Nancy’s to live.
When a coalition of people (including law professors such as Bernardine Dohrn and Randolph Stone whose advocacy on behalf of children I have always admired) launched efforts to abolish juvenile life sentences, I was appalled. The last thing I wanted was to attend parole hearings year after year, to beg bureaucrats not to release the person who had slaughtered my loved ones.
So I publicly fought any change in the sentence. I told myself that fight was not just for my family, but for other family members of loved ones murdered by juveniles who would be affected. I was like Saul early in the Book of Acts, the righteous one with a zeal for justice, before he was struck down and humbled and given a new name: Paul.
Then, I repented.
My road to Damascus moment didn’t come in a blinding light or a voice from heaven. The voice that changed my heart was that of a Mississippi-born, Vietnam veteran, Yale-educated Southern Baptist pastor and academic named Randall O’Brien.
O’Brien told me something true - that Nancy’s killer and I are both children of God, equally beloved and equally fallen. O’Brien reminded me of Jesus’ example on the cross of what to do with those who have harmed us: pray for them.
I had never prayed for the person who killed my loved ones; I had never even uttered his name.
I say it now: David Biro. I began praying for him in the only place I could: the garden where Nancy and Richard and their baby are buried. I dropped to my knees and asked God for something I never could have imagined, that Nancy’s killer get well enough to get out someday.
I don’t know that he will; he is not there yet. But I do know that no one, including him, is beyond the forgiveness and redemption and purpose of God.
My two young sons taught me that. We were talking about loving your neighbor as yourself. Stephen asked, “What about the person who killed Aunt Nancy?”
Brendan replied, “We can’t love what he did. But we have to love him, because God made him for a purpose.”
Brendan is right. God made each of the juveniles serving life sentences for a purpose. I can no longer support a sentence that says never.
Repenting privately would be cowardice, since my past support for locking up some juveniles forever has been so public. So when lawmakers in my state of Illinois consider bills next month that would abolish juvenile life sentences, I will be there to speak in favor of the mercy of a second chance.
Dr. Marcus Borg, a biblical and Jesus scholar, notes that the roots of the Greek word for “repentance” mean “to go beyond the mind that you have.”
My mind is changed; my heart is remade, and a new task lies ahead.
It makes us feel reassured to think that everyone can be redeemed, that evil can be eradicated or controlled. That does not make it true however. The kid who did that deed is missing some critical piece inside. If you let him out, some other family will be in mourning.
Empathy teaching dad in da picture? Or just burocrats?
it's always morning somewhere.
Please provide the evidence of "missing some critical piece inside." (If you've found "normal", please do let the rest of the world know).
Meanwhile, consider that this critical piece could be "missing" in the minds of Christians against atheists, or atheists against Christians (just two examples).
Perhaps, had someone or some group (family, youth group, friends) kept the piece from going missing, this might never have happened.
It is easier to label one "evil" than to have to the hard work of caring.
I hope you and the others here so certain about what const itues evil will take a few moments tonight, when most all attend the true church of the only true American religion, and pray for the ones like this...
But don't do it during halftime, it is against the will of the God of bread and circuses to miss even a moment of what makes this country truly great.
All of this "God's purpose" crap makes me sick. It's amazing how uneducated people sound when they start rambling about a fictional ghost in the sky.
Einstein with all his metal ability, he could not fathom God being there... and a guy standing by a tree with much less intelligence, saw who Jesus was 2000 years ago, and knew why he should follow him after almost no conversation. I wonder what Einstein would give, to have traded places with him.
Sorry, greg, I went to hit reply and accidentally hit abuse. No foul intended.
John, Einstein was jewish, which is just as much culture as it is religion. Your Jesus probably had very little meaning to him. As Einstein is now dead, he, like every other person who is no longer living, has ceased to exist.
You said, "I wonder what Einstein would give, to have traded places with him."
By necessity, his sanity.
LinCA, there is a huge gap between convincing yourself God isn't there, and knowing he is. Like a person that thinks a room couldn't be filled with treasure, and another person knows it is. Obviously you have not crossed that gap, which can only be crossed by wanting to know God, seeking and finding him, and then accepting him for who he is, God.
You said, "there is a huge gap between convincing yourself God isn't there, and knowing he is."
Of course. The difference is taking the lack of a rational case to its logical conclusion, and remaining blissfully ignorant.
You said, "Obviously you have not crossed that gap, which can only be crossed by wanting to know God, seeking and finding him, and then accepting him for who he is, God."
Exactly the same can be said for the Tooth Fairy or the Easter Bunny. Are you a true believer in those imaginary beings too?
Holy Crap from the Crap-Koran, Islamic Crap, sod-Islam:
“They even attribute to Him sons and daughters, without any knowledge. Be He glorified. He is the Most High, far above their claims.” Quran [6:100]
“The example of Jesus, as far as GOD is concerned, is the same as that of Adam; He created him from dust, then said to him, "Be," and he was.” Quran [3:59]
‘They said, "You have to be Jewish or Christian, to be guided." Say, "We follow the religion of Abraham – monotheism – he never was an idol worshiper." [2:135]
“Proclaim, He is the One and only GOD. The Absolute GOD. Never did He beget. Nor was He begotten. None equals Him." [112:1]
The Messiah, son of Mary is no more than a messenger like the messengers before him, and his mother was a saint. Both of them used to eat the food. Note how we explain the revelations for them, and note how they still deviate! [5:75]
It does not befit God that He begets a son, be He glorified. To have anything done, He simply says to it, "Be," and it is. [19:35]
“No soul can carry the sins of another soul. If a soul that is loaded with sins implores another to bear part of its load, no other soul can carry any part of it, even if they were related. ... [35:18]
They do not value God as He should be valued. God is the Most Powerful, the Almighty.[22:74]
If you obey the majority of people on earth, they will divert you from the path of God. They follow only conjecture; they only guess. [Quran 6:116]
“There shall be no compulsion in religion: the right way is now distinct from the wrong way. Anyone who denounces the devil and believes in God has grasped the strongest bond; one that never breaks. God is Hearer, Omniscient.” [2:256]
O people, here is a parable that you must ponder carefully: the idols you set up beside God can never create a fly, even if they banded together to do so. Furthermore, if the fly steals anything from them, they cannot recover it; weak is the pursuer and the pursued. [22:73]
“God: there is no other god besides Him, the Living, the Eternal. Never a moment of unawareness or slumber overtakes Him. To Him belongs everything in the heavens and everything on earth. Who could intercede with Him, except in accordance with His will? He knows their past, and their future. No one attains any knowledge, except as He wills. His dominion encompasses the heavens and the earth, and ruling them never burdens Him. He is the Most High, the Great.” [2:255]
Thanks for taking time to read my post. Please take a moment and press the delete button of your brain, and forget this nonsense.
Muhammad, the Arabic idiot made-up that Satanic thoughts. He will be punished with eternal fire.
Dr. Peter Boghossian, professor of philosophy at Portland State University, in a great talk on faith-based epistemology: "I disagree with granting religious delusion as an exemption, and I want to mention there's a budding young scholar here at Portland State University, Renee Barnett [sp?] who is working to eliminate the religious exemption from the DSM and I am helping her to do so."
Sadly the muslims have been deceived by satan and they worship satan as their god.
Are you referring to the DSM used by psychologist? Interesting, he wants a book to dictate what is proper and what is not...
"Are you referring to the DSM used by psychologist?"
Does more than one psychologist use this? Then it's 'psychologists'.
When are you dunderheads going to learn the plurals of -ist words? Atheists. Scientists. Deists. Yeah, even poltergeists!
Plan on putting that in your book too?
Da woeman is from Chitown just like da prez. People are in trouble. Wright?
looks like lol?? accidentally spelled a few words correctly. You're slipping lol.
We are all here to learn the lessons of life, David Biro is learning the lessons of life in prison where he belongs.
Da "wegod" can't save you.
I do believe in forgiveness. But there are limits and certain times where I would never apply it. I find this whole "say you're sorry, repent, do the hail Mary" routine appalling. What an easy ticket – and then screw up again. That said, I would never forgive somebody who killed another human being. This kid (and at 16 more adult than kid) clearly has something wired wrong in his brain. He is sick. To think that he could be among us again, is very scary. I would think that the chances that he will do something horrific again are extremely high. If Jeanne needs to forgive him in order to move on with her life – it's her choice, but I sure hope he'll stay locked up. For those keeping track – I'm agnostic.
I agree. Forgiveness is something for her to move on and have peace.
I believe the question here is does the one shoe fit all mentality really work? I think the justice system has lost sight of what justice means. Not all criminals deserve the same punishment, yet our justice system applies this principle dictated by legislators who make judges referees and not JUDGES. Maybe judges should start wearing black and white striped shirts with black pants instead of robes?
When he gets out he is going to cure cancer. There happy? Now can we kill chickens?
Speaking of killings, has anyone been in a retail store of any sort today? People are way beyond surly and abusive toward the people working the registers. Why today?
Last minute Super Bowl preppers.
It started years ago with the treatment of airline employees – a passenger in PHX curses a gate agent because he missed his flight – she has a heart attack, slamming her head on the counter as she goes down. Instead of getting help, he goes to a phone calls the 800-reservation number and says, "you've got a dead agent at gate ... in Phoenix." (1990) Man in New Jersey picks up a gate agent, head slams him into the floor breaking his neck (1992); young man dies of a heart attack at the entrance to the jetbridge during boarding at gate 19 in DFW – paramedics are called – shot of adrenal in the jungler – blood sprays the wall of the jetbridge and thne NY passengers are raising cane about delaying the boarding process (1985); woman in 1class of a 747 jumps on the back of a flight attendant and pulls a quarter size plug of hair out of her head, because the F/A asked her to flick her cigarette ashes in the ash tray instead of the floor (1978). Man reaches across the counter at a gate in Nashville, grabs the agent by her neck scraf lifting her off the ground because his flight was fogged in – that was me in 1994 – I was being straggled. Man in DFW picks up a metal stantion pole, jumps counter and proceeds to beat the ticket agent because he wants to charge him to change his travel dates. And people say airline employees are rude – it's called PTSD, not rude. Welcome to the civilized world, cashiers – the evil that men do live after them, the good oft interred with their bones.
Dear Jeanne Bishop:
You are freaking crazy.
What irks me is that it is Super Sunday, the most important holiday and religious ceremony of the year, and there is a chicken wing shortage and everyone is just talking about some psycho-killer like somehow that mattered!!
I just love how the "chicken wing shortage" stories appeared just in time to raise prices on them for the super bowl. Beautiful!
Wonder what the dead sister might think (if she could) that her own sister wants to let her killer run free. How's that for loyalty?
Well according to you it would be something like this "........................................ ". So what's it matter to you?
I intentionally put "if she could" for non-thinkers like you to understand I wasn't literally asking what a dead person thought but rather making a commentary on familial loyalty. When one prefers loyalty to the monarch King, one's loyalty to family then suffers. Seems pretty shameful to me. Does that help you understand, Poultrygeist, or do I need to write it in crayon?
You can't be loyal to the dead, you can avenge them though. Your ability to hold grudges is not the same as loyalty, which is performed for the sake of others. Your desire for vengence is personal, and driven by grief, not loyalty.
But to entertain this hypothetical, she might hope that her sister does what ever would bring her peace. Wouldn't you want your family to move on to other constructive things than spending their whole lives fighting for your memory?
"because God made him for a purpose.”
by her rationale god made her own sister for the purpose of being killed so he could fulfill his purpose. Where exactly does this beginning and ending "purpose" actually matter? Maybe this murdering fucker snuffed out her own sister's actual purpose, and here she is hoping he can get out and run free through daisy fields again one day.
@ End Religion Haven't you heard? Apparently, the earth was suspended at the 'right' distance from the sun so that life could be created, evolve, and lead to the evolution of christian loonies. Shoot, all of the 150 billion lightyears that comprises the width of the universe was created so that in on some speck in some insignificant galaxy in a tiny corner of the universe, David Biro could arise and pose a challenge to the author's faith.
@ End Religion Haven't you heard? Apparently, the earth was suspended at the 'right' distance from the sun so that life could be created, evolve, and lead to the evolution of christian loonies. Shoot, all of the 150 billion lightyears that comprise the width of the universe was created so that in on some speck in some insignificant galaxy in a tiny corner of the universe, David Biro could arise and pose a challenge to the author's faith.
The killer had a purpose and he fulfilled it. Some of us have greater purpose, some lesser. His crime goes beyond henious. This sister is a traitor, disloyal and confused. Let the kid go and who knows? She may be next dead at his hands because to him, wouldn't that be an interesting evening? Serial killers don't stop at one. This "BUDDING" serial killer knocked out 3 in one act. Wow. He must be proud of himself.
I might feel differently if indeed the kid had repented, shown remorse, caved in, recieved treatment ect. But nope, that never happened. Delusion for this woman has set in. She needs help to understand that forgiveness does not mean to set a violent criminal free and gamble with other people's lives as well. Sorry.
lol, TANK, that was beautiful. You said it much better.
It is one thing to forgive and another to allow justice to prevail. Because you have been dragged through a gut wrenching time does not mean he should go free to kill again.
boenairgeez, I agree with you, UNLESS he is free to kill chickens ONLY.
Hey "sportsfan," as a proud chicken, I remark that resent. Eat more beef.
Who are you – or any of us for that matter – to decide that God's 'purpose' for David Biro is something OTHER than spending the rest of his life in prison for killing 3 innocent souls in cold blood. We don't know what God's 'purpose' is for ANY of us, so why should we presume differently in Biro's case. Maybe that's what God wants for him.
Nope, God wants dead chickens. Lots and lots of dead chickens.
No. See, the entire purpose of David Biro's life was to be a test to the author's faith. The energic cost of creating trillions of sperm and one egg so that he could be conceived, the ~twenty minutes worth of energy his parents spent to conceive him, and the thousands of dollars worth of time and money his parents and the society spent on raising him was all for the single purpose of posing a momentary challenge to the author's faith, because God knows the world revolves around christian cultists. The same calculations apply to the sister and her fetus.
Hey "Tank!!!" – "twenty minutes"? I should be so lucky.
If I were God (and I am not by the way) I would not have people killing each other like that. Hope the Colts win. I would have more chickens killed though.
God in Quran says, (holy Islamic scripture)
Thanks for taking time to read my post. Please take a moment to clear your misconception by going to whyIslam org website.
You have never commented on a single story where you've posted this spam. Why would anyone take your advertising seriously ?
Only by Christianity absurdity of a Christian, hindu and pagan. Filthy Christian Captain Crunch dog. Filthy pagan hindu pig dog. Filthy Randy Jackson dog. Filthy hebrew national beef dog. Filthy Ron Jeremy foot-long dog. NO DOGS!! Who let them be out? Quran means nothing else but path of triple abdullah absolute quantified. please visit ahmadinebinpaid.com/blog.html and click on word Choice to open file. But turn virus protection off before
Thou shall not blasepheme against God
Get off with your Koran-Crap. It is really holy crap.
Muhammad, your alleged prophet, was a womanizer, a thief, a murderer, a liar, etc. Buttom line, Muhammad was an incarnation of the devil.
Do you honesty require us to believe in such a damned swine? Such a beast? Such a monkey? Such a dog? Such an jerk and idiot?
Muhammad will be cast into the Lake of Fire by the Great God Jesus Christ! Yes, Amen!
And you're no better, No-Brainer. You steal free advertising as much as he does. Is thievery OK by your religion ?
Rainy – Just think: crap – meet crap.
So, you have taken portions of the Bible , plagiarized it and claim it to be the word of your god? In case you didn't know already, the devil is a big liar and you have been deceived.
Shake off the bondage that your religion has you in and seek the truth!
You can pray all you want, but how would you feel if your prayers were answered, this monster got out, and he killed again. I couldn't disagree with you more on this one. He deserves to rot in jail for the rest of his life, no question. He is no better than the dirt under our feet. My advice: don't waste another minute of your prayers on that piece of garbage, and get on with your life.
This kid is a vicious, remorseless, evil, little pr_ck. Let him rot behind bars. In my book, he is beyond any real redemption. God or no-God.
It is a great idiocy of the Free Churches that they say: "We are all sinners!" They use this term like a mathematical formula. This statement is just too awkward, and implies the thought that this state could be shifted simply through the brain-faith: "I believe in Jesus Christ!" Just as if you multiply minus 1000 with minus one and it becomes plus 1000.
The truth is that we all have biologically inherited the sinful nature of the degenerated Adam. It is not very easy to get rid of this fallen nature because it is connected with our real body. This needs more than brain-faith, it needs the Real Faith, which is metaphysical, and connected with the sacramental baptism. We need to get born out of Water and Spirit which takes place through faith and baptism. After that we have to give space to Christ or the Spirit daily, and in this power we have to overcome our sinful flesh. Only if we do this our whole life long, we will come through at Judgement Day. If we allow Christ or the Spirit to rule us daily, we really keep the Faith which is much more than a confession of words.
I'm sorry, "Rainer Braendlein", but "Adam", "Christ", "Spirit", and "Judgment Day" are all elements of mythology, therefore your assertions are unfounded. Using my Idiomatic Expression Equivalency module (IEE), the expression that best matches the degree to which your repeated unfounded assertions may represent truths is: "EPIC FAIL". Perhaps the following book can help you cope with the problem of repeating unfounded assertions:
I'm Told I Have Dementia: What You Can Do... Who You Can Turn to...
Hands up, and step away from the bong NOW!!!!!!!11
Believe in God all you want. That is our right in this free country. BUT, do not release violent beings based on your God. Heal the way you need to to be able to live a full life, but do not put mine in danger in order for you to do this. A crime was committed and the criminal needs to stay behind bars.
They get released based on the law and evaluations. If the law were to pass and he were to be evaluated as safe(unlikely) he could get released. There are liberals writing these laws, take it up with them.
@Poultry: "There are liberals . ." lol. Right – generalize much?
She wants him to get well enough some day for the possibility of a second chance. She doesn't think he is there yet so I don't really think she is saying that dangerous people should be released. Rather, I think she is saying if at some point in his life, he seem to be well enough to be released into society then there should be an option for a second chance. Not because she just wants him to be let out, but because he was so young that he did something he might not have done as an adult thinking man. I also think if he has no remorse and doesn't get well then she would probably be fine with him staying behind bars. She just wants a second chance for those juveniles who truly are better and appear to be able to live in society as productive and non-violent citizens. I know that is taking a chance with society, but there have been many juveniles that were released from prison for violent offenses who never offended again. There is no perfect answer. I wish her the best.
Yes I do generalize politics. Conservatives aren't known for giving prisoners chances. They try to burry criminals when they can.
"Conservatives aren't known for giving prisoners chances."
Unless they are white men.
@ End Religion
...or conservative Catholics, Evangelicals, or other conservatives...for they were just doing Reagan's...er, uh...God's will
Can't argue against that, end.
The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.