Capital Punishment in America

Did you know: If you kill a white person, you're much more likely to be sentenced to death than if you kill a minority? In the last 30 years, 130 people have been cleared of wrongdoing while awaiting execution? That the United States executed more of its citizens in 2007 than every other country in the world except China, Pakistan, Iran, and Saudi Arabia? These are just a few of the facts we learned tonight at an eye-opening presentation and discussion on the topic of the Death Penalty as currently practiced in America.

We'll be including Brent's awesome slides that give some more info about capital punishment in the US as soon as we get them made available, but first, here's some stuff you can do to personally get involved and make a difference:

  • Troy Davis - Sentenced to death in Georgia for a crime he says he didn't commit. Convicted on very questionable evidence. 2 hours before he was to be put to death last Tuesday, the Supreme Court issued a stay of execution and is considering hearing his case. If not, he will likely be executed Monday. Hear his own words, sign Amnesty International's petition, and read more about the situation and other things you can do to help.
  • Be a Pen Pal with a Death Row Inmate - If you'd like to learn more about what it's like to be on death row, why not write to someone who's there? The Jail Outreach organization can get you in touch with an inmate who you can write to. If you're interested, email me at biggins2 at gmail dot com with "Death Row Penpal" in the subject line and we'll get you set up.
  • Attend the Fourth annual Symposium on Restorative Justice, Punishment, and the Death Penalty at UVU next Thursday, October 2nd. It's an all-day symposium, so you can take part in discussions and presentations throughout the day, but BYU Amnesty will be carpooling over for the keynote speaker, William Schabas, director of the Irish Centre for Human Rights at the National University of Ireland. We'll be meeting at 6 oclock at BYU, stay tuned for details.
  • Letter to the editor - write in to your local paper. Write to the Daily Universe at letters@byu.edu and let them know what you think about Troy Davis, the death penalty, and/or the American justice system.

It was a great discussion, thanks to everyone who came, and we hope to see even more of you next week! And, as always, we welcome your thoughts and questions via the comments box below.


austin said...

I was glad there was more of a variety of viewpoints today; it looked like about half of the people there were in favor of completely abolishing the death penalty, which made for a good discussion and hearing both sides. It's certainly not a simple subject, but I think we can all agree that there are disturbing trends in the application of capital punishment and that we as a country need to be aware of what we're doing and who we are putting to death and think very hard about what is and isn't acceptable evidence for ending a human life.

Carl said...

Along with what Austin just said, I think it's critical that we be aware not just of what we as a country are doing, but what precedence our example sets for the rest of the developing world where legal systems aren't nearly as thorough nor exhaustive as our own. How could we ever tell Pakistan that their use of the death penalty is putting innocent people at risk if we ourselves are still employing such an extreme measure of punitive justice?

My prayers are with Troy, and all others who may have been wrongfully accused.