Arbitrary Convictions:
Capital Punishment in the United States

Sister Helen Prejean and Lawrence C. Marshall with William F. Abrams

Thursday, October 27, 2005 | 7:30 – 9:00pm | Kresge Auditorium | Free and Open to All

As of October 2004, 117 wrongfully convicted persons from twenty-five states have been released from America's death rows, and the number continues to grow. How do such serious mistakes occur in what some call the best court system in the world? And how can fifty states, each bound by the same Constitution and Supreme Court guidelines, implement the death penalty so differently? Should justice in a democratic society be an arbitrary matter? You are invited to join this conversation about one of the most important civil rights issues of our day.

Since the success of her first book, Dead Man Walking (1993), Sister Helen Prejean has worked tirelessly to provoke discussion about the death penalty. In a new book, The Death of Innocents: An Eyewitness Account of Wrongful Executions, Sister Helen tells the story of her ministry to possibly innocent human beings who die at the hands of the state and exposes the workings of America's "machinery of death."

A graduate of Northwestern Law School, Larry Marshall co-founded the Center on Wrongful Convictions, which pioneered the investigation of serious miscarriages of justice and was a driving force behind Governor George H. Ryan's decision to suspend executions in Illinois. He is now Professor of Law and the David and Stephanie Mills Director of Clinical Education at Stanford Law School.

WILLIAM F. ABRAMS (moderator)
Educated at Stanford and the University of Santa Clara Law School, Bill Abrams teaches courses on children's legal issues and the death penalty in Stanford's program in Human Biology. A partner in the law firm, Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman, he is currently working to overturn the death sentence and conviction of Jimmy Davis, a prisoner on Alabama's death row since 1993, and Melvin Davis, who had been on death row in Alabama since 1998.

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