High School, College and Graduate Students Convene to Discuss Death Penalty and Push for Reforms

February 21, 2003 12:00 am

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WASHINGTON – At a conference this Saturday, the Johns Hopkins University chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union and other anti-death penalty advocates are bringing together high school, college and graduate students to take a close-up look at the death penalty in America and learn what they can do to ensure basic fairness and justice in the capital punishment system.

“”Young people have tremendous energy and a keen sense of fairness-it’s time for that energy and power to focus on the death penalty,”” said Diann Rust-Tierney, Director of the ACLU’s Capital Punishment Project, a co-sponsor of the event.

The Student Death Penalty Convention will feature workshops on juvenile executions, race, innocence, international law, the death penalty systems of neighboring states Maryland and Virginia, and the federal death penalty. Howard Law School is hosting the conference.

Conference organizers said they hope to engage students in youth death penalty coalitions that will become active in regional and national death penalty issues.

Featured speakers at the conference include:

  • Ray Krone, the100th innocent person exonerated from death row since the death penalty was reinstated in1973.
  • Salima Marriot, a State Delegate from Maryland, which recently lifted a moratorium on all executions.
  • Brett Kimberlin, the front-man for the activist punk-rock band, Epoxy. MTV recently premiered the band’s video for the song, “Killing Fields,” which was written to commemorate the 1998 execution of Karla Faye Tucker, the first woman executed in Texas since the Civil War.

In the past year, a number of developments have placed the death penalty in the forefront of public debate. Before leaving office, former Illinois Governor George Ryan commuted the sentences of death row prisoners to life, acting on evidence of a flawed system that had sent innocent individuals to death row; federal district court judges in New York and Vermont declared the federal death penalty unconstitutional; and five more people were freed from death row due to their innocence in 2003, bringing the total to 107 since 1973.

Conference co-sponsors include ACLU affiliate offices in Washington, Maryland and Virginia, Johns Hopkins University campus groups, Amnesty International, the Campaign to End the Death Penalty, Howard University School of Law Equal Justice Program and the Resource Center for Activism & Arts.

To read more about this weekend’s conference please go to: http://www.jhu.edu/~aclu/registration.html

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