Christian Harrison was still a child when his older sister Kasee went missing. It would be decades before it was determined that she was one of Gary Ridgway’s 71 victims. Regarded as the most prolific serial killer in American history, he received a sentence of life in prison in exchange for information about unsolved murders, including the location of remains.
While many of the victims’ family members decried the deal as failing to adequately punish him for his heinous crimes, Christian arrived at a different conclusion. He argues that “closure” is not an event that survivors experience upon execution of a perpetrator but that it is a process that occurs largely independent of the perpetrator’s punishment.
Please be sure to watch the full interview in the player at the top of the article to understand Christian’s perspective on the death penalty.
Interview with Christian Harrison.
The following is the pre-interview with Christian Harrison. Be sure to watch the recorded interview above.
We’ll be discussing the death penalty with Christian Harrison.
How are you personally affected by the death penalty?
My sister was raped and then brutally killed by Gary Ridgway, the so-called Green River Killer, who confessed to killing 71 women, total. Today, Gary is serving a life sentence without the possibility of parole at the Washington State Penitentiary in Walla Walla, Washington. Under Washington’s laws at the time, Gary was eligible for the death penalty. Prosecutors offered Gary a life sentence in exchange for his cooperation in locating the remains of his victims and other salient details.
What is your take on the death penalty?
The death penalty is neither demonstrably deterring nor reformative. It is, however, fiscally irresponsible, capricious and—like so many things in our criminal justice system—profoundly racist. It’s time we, as a nation, abolished the death penalty.
Christian Harrison’s bio:
Christian Harrison remembers the weeks surrounding his sister’s disappearance. He was 11 years old. Christian’s sister, Kasee, who’d been physically and probably sexually abused by his own father, had run away repeatedly and had eventually been placed in state custody. At sixteen, she was emancipated… a few months later, she was dead. Nearly twenty years later, Gary Ridgway confessed to raping and killing her and tossing her body in a ditch.
Christian grew up fast in that household.
Like his siblings, he looked for ways to stay away from the dysfunction at home. High school debate, church musical productions, boy scouts… the usual. A few weeks after his 18th birthday, he moved to California… a year later, he served a two-year mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. After his mission, he attended Brigham Young University, where he studied International Relations, French, Mandarin, and Danish—with an eye towards taking the Foreign Service Exam and working overseas for the State Department. A year or so before his expected graduation, Christian co-founded a software company with a small team of visionaries. He went on to participate in the founding of three other software companies but transitioned into non-profit work as the economy lurched from one economic downturn to another.
Today, Christian manages marketing for Utah’s foster care system, consults on various urban development and transportation issues, and sits on a few boards of directors. He’s also active in Salt Lake City political circles. When he’s not trying to change the world, you can find Christian in the water (a mountain lake, a bubbling hot spring), attending a local band’s concert or the opening of an art gallery, or searching out the best meals in Utah.