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The Closure Myth tells the story of Aba Gayle, a woman whose daughter was stabbed to death in 1980, yet who now visits the murderer on death row and acts as an advocate on his behalf. Formerly lusting for an execution, Aba Gayle spent 8 years after her daughter’s death consumed by her desire for revenge – attending the sentencing of Douglas Mickey as he received the death penalty for the killing, and asking for a seat at his impending execution. After many long and painful years, Aba Gayle came to believe that capital punishment was not going to bring her peace. Instead, in an attempt to heal, she did the unexpected: she wrote her daughter’s killer a letter expressing her forgiveness. “The instant the letter was in the mailbox,” she says, “all the anger, all the rage, all the lust for revenge…it disappeared.”
Despite the widespread perception that executions bring victims’ families peace of mind, the truth is that, just as the country remains deeply divided on the issue of capital punishment, so, too, do victims’ families. Many, like Aba Gayle, say that instead of the death penalty bringing them solace, the appeals and anticlimax involved in an execution prevent them from finding ways to heal. By tracing Aba Gayle’s dramatic transformation from before her daughter’s murder to the present, and chronicling the emotional ordeal that she encounters as Douglas Mickey’s execution nears, The Closure Myth tells a powerful story of forgiveness and articulates this often overlooked perspective in the death penalty debate.