Thursday, April 4, 2013

Capital Punishment Presentation

Capital Punishment

Monday, April 8, 2013 at 7:00PM
Ethical Society of Philadelphia
1906 Rittenhouse Square 

Free and open to the public!

 The Ethical Humanist Society of Philadelphia presents another in its Constitution at Work Series examining important issues in relation to the Constitution, legal rulings, and ethics. 

Leader of the Ethical Humanist Society of Philadelphia, Hugh Taft-Morales, will discuss constitutional and ethical issues about the death penalty with University of Pennsylvania Law Professor Kim Roosevelt. 

The two will address many issues including the purpose of the criminal justice system, constitutional challenges to capital punishment based on the 5th, 8th and 14th amendments, proportionality, and problems that arise in application of the death penalty. 

After questions and comments from the floor, there will be time for conversation over refreshments.

Prof. Roosevelt’s areas of expertise are constitutional law, conflicts of law, and federal jurisdiction.  His latest book, Conflict of Laws (Foundation Press 2010) offers an accessible analytical overview of conflicts. His prior book, The Myth of Judicial Activism: Making Sense of Supreme Court Decisions (Yale, 2006) sets out standards by which citizens can determine whether the Supreme Court is abusing its authority. He has also published in the Virginia, Michigan and Columbia law reviews, among others, and his articles have been cited twice by the Supreme Court and numerous times by state and lower federal courts. He represents a detainee in the detention center at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba. He also is the author of a novel, In the Shadow of the Law (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 2005).

Monday, February 11, 2013

Sr. Helen Prejean to Speak at Rosemont College, near Philly, PA

Sr Helen Prejean, the rock star of the death penalty abolition
movement, will be speaking at Rosemont College next Monday, February
18, 2013. If you have never heard her speak before, I promise you, you
will never forget seeing her. The event is free and open to the public
but you are asked to register before hand. I hope to see some of you



Here's the link to register:

Here's the college's press release:

<<Sister Helen Prejean, author of the bestselling Dead Man Walking: An
Eyewitness Account of the Death Penalty in the United States, will
speak at 7 p.m. Monday, February 18 in McShain Performing Arts Center
at Rosemont College. The lecture is free and open to all. The event is
sponsored by the Institute for Ethical Leadership and Social
Responsibility at Rosemont College.

Sister Prejean will present “Dead Man Walking: The Journey Continues.”
She has become a leading American advocate for the abolition of the
death penalty and will speak about how she educates citizens about
capital punishment. Sister Prejean’s books will be available for
purchase and she will participate in a book signing after the event.

Prejean is a nationally recognized human rights activist and has been
the subject of many interviews on national broadcasts, including 60
Minutes, NBC’s Today Show, ABC’s World News Tonight, Larry King Live
(radio), and National Public Radio’s Weekend Edition and Fresh Air.
She has been featured in the New York Times, Vogue, and Good
Housekeeping magazines and several other print media. Dead Man Walking
was number one on the New York Times Best Seller List for thirty-one
weeks. It also was an international best-seller and has been
translated into ten different languages.

Born in 1939 in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, Prejean joined the Sisters of
St. Joseph of Medaille in 1957 (now known as the Congregation of St.
Joseph) and received a bachelor’s degree in English and education from
St. Mary’s Dominican College, New Orleans in 1962. In 1973, she earned
a master’s degree in religious education from St. Paul’s University in
Ottawa, Canada. She has been the religious education director at St.
Frances Cabrini Parish in New Orleans, the formation director for her
religious community, and has taught junior and senior high school
students. In 2006, she received an honorary doctorate from the
University of Portland.

She began her prison ministry in 1981 when she dedicated her life to
the poor of New Orleans. While living in the St. Thomas housing
project, she became a pen pal with Patrick Sonnier, the convicted
killer of two teenagers, sentenced to die in the electric chair of
Louisiana’s Angola State Prison.

Upon Sonnier’s request, Prejean repeatedly visited him as his
spiritual advisor. In doing so, she became familiar with the Louisiana
execution process. Prejean turned her experiences into Dead Man
Walking, an autobiographical account of her relationship with Sonnier
and other inmates on death row. The book not only made the 1994
American Library Associates Notable Book List, it was also nominated
for a 1993 Pulitzer Prize.

In January 1996, the book was developed into a major motion picture
starring Susan Sarandon as Prejean and Sean Penn as a death row
inmate. The movie received four Oscar nominations including Tim
Robbins for best director, Sean Penn for best actor, Susan Sarandon
for best actress, and Bruce Springsteen’s “Dead Man Walking” for best
song. Susan Sarandon won the award for best actress.

Fifteen years after beginning her crusade, the Roman Catholic sister
has witnessed five executions in Louisiana and today educates the
public about the death penalty by lecturing, organizing, and writing.
As the founder of Survive, a victim's advocacy group in New Orleans,
she continues to counsel not only inmates on death row, but the
families of murder victims as well.

Sister Prejean’s second book, The Death of Innocents: An Eyewitness
Account of Wrongful Executions, was published in December 2004. In it,
she tells the story of two men, Dobie Gillis Williams and Joseph
O’Dell, whom she accompanied to their executions. In The Death of
Innocents she takes the reader through all the evidence, including
evidence the juries never heard either due to the incompetence of the
defense lawyers or the rigid formalities of court procedure. She
believes both of them were innocent.>>

Monday, February 4, 2013

Maryland Gov. Pushes for Death Penalty Repeal
On January 15th, Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley announced that he will once again push for repeal of capital punishment in the state. O'Malley, who has long been opposed to the death penalty, attempted repeal in 2009 but fell short. Now, with renewed momentum and stronger support within the legislature, many think that Maryland may be the next state to abolish capital punishment.

And it seems about time. While the entire nation scrambles to cut spending in the wake of recession, anti-death penalty advocates argue that we simply cannot afford to maintain a system marked by such high costs and seemingly little returns.  Governor O'Malley said,
“It is not a deterrent. It cannot be administered without racial bias. It costs three times as much as locking someone up for life without parole. And it cannot be reversed if an innocent person is executed.” 
A 2008 study by the Urban Institute estimated that Maryland taxpayers are paying about $186 million for the capital punishment system in the state - a system which has carried out only five executions since 1978 when Maryland reenacted the death penalty. The study estimated that, in comparison to an equivalent non-death penalty case, Marylanders paid an extra $1.9 million more per death sentence - a total of about $3 million per death penalty case. According to the Death Penalty Information Center,
"The study examined 162 capital cases that were prosecuted between 1978 and 1999 and found that seeking the death penalty in those cases cost $186 million more than what those cases would have cost had the death penalty not been sought. At every phase of a case, according to the study, capital murder cases cost more than non-capital murder cases."
What's more, the study looked at 106 cases where the death penalty was sought but not handed down in Maryland and found that those cases cost the state an additional $71 million simply to seek a death sentence, yet the final outcome was ultimately life or a long-term sentence.

If Maryland successfully repeals the death penalty, it will be the sixth state in the past decade to repeal, including Connecticut which voted for repeal last year. 17 states plus the District of Columbia have abolished the death penalty. Along with Maryland, Senator Hank Sanders of Alabama plans to introduce a bill to abolish the death penalty this year, as do Kentucky Representative Carl Rollins, Senator Claire Levy of Colorado, New Hampshire Governor Margaret Hassan, and Governor John Kitzhaber of Oregon.

O'Malley has been a true champion for progressive causes since he was elected Governor of Maryland in 2006. In 2011, he signed a law to make certain undocumented immigrants eligible for in-state college tuition, also known as the Dream Act, and in 2012 he signed a law to legalize same-sex marriage in the state which was upheld by majority vote during the general elections. This year, O'Malley has stated that he plans to pursue stricter gun safety regulations, including a ban of assault weapons and gun safety courses and background checks for potential gun owners. He also announced plans to increase the use of renewable wind-energy off of the Atlantic coast through use of incentives.