I was at Gov. Corzine's office to applaud the signing of the bill abolishing the death penalty (Inquirer, Dec. 19).

I was one of many present who had lost a loved one to murder, and one of many more who had testified before several committees that this change to life without parole would help victims' families. I was also one of more than 60 family members of murder victims who signed a letter asking the Legislature to abolish the death penalty.

The person who murdered my mother received a life-without-parole sentence, just as described in the new law. I can testify that it brings swift legal closure, which is essential to reconciling ourselves with the finality of loss. It forces us to deal with trauma in the privacy of our own hearts and with our families and friends.

By removing grief from the prolonged and public criminal justice system, Corzine and the Legislature have brought countless people their richly deserved opportunity to heal. I'm proud of us all.

Bill Piper

Pennington