This past Saturday, over 120 high school and college students from across Tennessee attended the 6th Annual Student Conference on the Death Penalty at Middle Tennessee State University. TADP Executive Director Stacy Rector opened the conference, giving an overview of our broken death penalty system. Paul House, Tennessee’s second death row exoneree, and his mother, Joyce, also addressed the crowd. The conference’s keynote speakers were Mark Osler, a law professor, former federal prosecutor, and author of Jesus on Death Row, along with Jeanne Bishop, a defense attorney, law professor, and the sister of Nancy Bishop Langert, who was murdered along with her husband and their unborn child in 1990. Mark explained how our modern day death penalty system parallels the trial and execution of Christ, while Jeanne shared the heartbreaking story of her sister’s death and how that experience, along with her faith, only reinvigorated her opposition to the death penalty.
The students then attended workshops before and after lunch, which included topics of mental illness and the death penalty, presented by Chris Slobogin, director of Vanderbilt Law School’s Criminal Justice Program; Sharing Our Stories: Murder Victims’ Families Speak with Hector Black, whose daughter was murdered in 2000; and the impact of the Troy Davis execution, which was facilitated by Ebony Brickhouse, a field organizer for Amnesty International who worked on Davis’ campaign.
Some of the attendees shared with us that the information they received and the discussions they had at this conference led them to re-evaluate their position on the death penalty. We are thrilled that so many students attended and engaged in this important issue. We are hopeful that they will return to their campuses empowered and inspired to educate others and work toward repeal of the death penalty. Thanks to all who participated in making this year’s conference a success!
Now that the student conference is over, Write-a-Thons are approaching, and so is Justice Day on the Hill which will take place April 3. Check out our “Get Involved” tab for more information.
(Photo: TADP Director, Stacy Rector addresses Student Conference. Also pictured are Paul House, Joyce House, and keynote speakers Mark Osler and Jeanne Bishop).
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