I just got back into the office from a mid-day trip to the legislature with the above group of high school anti-death penalty activists. New members of the legislature are often the most ready and willing to hear from their constituents, and, with Republican control of the Senate, we knew that we needed to start talking to some of the new Republican legislators about the failings of the death penalty system. So a student contingent, including TCASK board reps Kathryn Lea and Lillian Siman, visited newly minted Senator Jack Johnson this afternoon to discuss the moratorium effort and the problems inherent in Tennessee’s death penalty system.
These kids are awesome! Luke Lea, all of 15 years old, quoted Sandra Day O’Connor verbatim and unprompted. Jack Lindsay laid out as eloquently as I could have the rationale for needing a moratorium. Kathryn used the Senator’s own pro-life position to passionately argue against the death penalty. The group, clearly, impressed the Senator – I mean, they impressed me and I’ve been working with them for a year!
Legislators love meeting with students. It’s a photo op, and they get to talk about how they support our children and our future, etc. They expect students to say, “I think the death penalty is mean.” But when teenagers care enough about an issue to come to the capitol and then eloquently and insightfully argue the merits of a public policy, it blows them away. I don’t know what TCASK would do without our students!
Oh, and the outcome? The Senator said he was “110% in support of a study.” Not too shabby.
(There was some celebration back in the TCASK office)
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