Monday, October 08, 2007

 

TCASK Student Conference 2007

On Saturday, high school and college students from all over Tennessee gathered at MTSU to spend a full day learning about the death penalty and how they, as young people, can affect change to end this failed public policy. Students from schools as diverse as University of the South, Tennessee State University, Rhodes College, Lipscomb University, University of Tennessee at Knoxville, University of Memphis, and Middle Tennessee State University, as well as high school students from both Nashville and Memphis, joined together for a day of learning and action against the death penalty.

The students attended a variety of workshops including workshops addressing race and the death penalty, victims' experiences of the death penalty system, and also the risk of wrongful convictions. TCASK was honored to welcome Rep. Larry and Mrs. Johnnie Turner; Clemmie Greenlee, the mother of a murder victim who opposes the death penalty; and Joyce House, the mother of Paul House who has spent 22 years on Tennessee's death row for a crime the evidence overwhelmingly shows that he didn't commit, who all assisted in leading workshops. The students were riveted by the facts concerning the death penalty and by the powerful firsthand stories from the people who have lived them.

Our keynote speaker for the day, Vicki Schieber, shared her story of loss and forgiveness as she spoke of her daughter Shannon's brutal rape and murder as a first year grad student in Philadelphia. Vicki's journey has been a very painful one, and she has dedicated her life to speaking out against the death penalty as a member of Murder Victims' Families for Human Rights. Her family has suffered tremendously as a result of her daughter's murder, but Vicki firmly believes that seeking the death penalty does not honor her daughter's memory nor does it do anything to heal. Her healing has come from her faith and her family, and her daughter's murderer is serving a sentence of life without the possibility of parole, where he can no longer hurt any other women. Her honesty and courage in sharing the most horrible thing that has ever happened to her and her journey to healing was a humbling experience for all who were privileged to hear it. We also learned that Rep.Turner, who has been devoted to the cause of abolition in Tennessee for years, lost a brother to a brutal murder just 5 years ago. This loss is very painful for him to share, and he continues to struggle with it. However, we are even more grateful to him and in awe of his continued work to end the death penalty, considering how personal the issue has become for him and his family.

The day concluded with students learning about how to plan events and create opportunities for action on their campuses in order to raise awareness and to activate others to work for change. Our former Associate Director, Alex Wiesendanger, flew in from Chicago to assist in this training as well as former student representative to the Board, Lillian Siman who flew in from Boston, and Kathryn Lea, current Board member who drove in from Knoxville--thanks to all for your efforts to make this day such a powerful one! Also, thanks to Isaac for his planning and leadership of the event.

We hope that as part of the follow-up to this conference, students will be empowered to plan an event or action on their campuses, such as a write-a-thon for International Death Penalty Abolition day on March 1. I was so impressed with the young people who devoted an entire Saturday to this issue and who are rising to the challenge of doing something about it. I believe their energy and commitment is contagious and hope that others will join with them in this work to honor life by abolishing the death penalty.
Comments :
And I am sure that these impressionable high school students were given a balanced presentation . . . .

Hopefully, you guys didn't try to support your thesis that the death penalty is racist by citing the 40% on death row but 17% of the Tennessee population hogwash.
 
I'm so happy we're getting the word out to young people. It's great to see that there are so many young folks with conscience out there that are willing to come together for a good cause. We'll end this immoral practice of killing one day.
 
I'm just wondering if those same high school students were to continue listening to the preachings of tcask should they wake up one morning to find everything they know in life is gone because of one selfish arrogant person.
 
I wonder if they might wake up one day to see life the way it was meant to be?
If we can work on that selfish arrogant person it may come to pass. And my, according to the previous blog there may only be one. :-)

Harry I think you could teach anonymous things he never thought possible with all you have been through. I really admire you!!!
 
Maybe anonymous, this one at least, could teach Harry a couple of things with all she has been through.
 
I'm always learning new things...never said I thought I knew it all. Don't be hating...
I'm having a really hard time telling anonymous from anonymous. Hoping this blog can stay positive.
 
Well, one thing that I could be taught is why the 40%/17% comparison is valid, when the rate of black criminality is higher than that of the general population. Someone please teach me that.

I am waiting, or will you guys finally admit that it's a bogus comparison.
 
Valid how?

Valid in that the state's population is 17% black?

That the death row population is 40% black?

What is not valid about the above two statements?
 
Ike, the issue is what those numbers prove. TCASK folks have used those numbers to support an assertion that the death penalty discriminates against blacks. Well, guess what, blacks commit murder out of proportion to their numbers in society, so comparing the death row population to the population at large is invalid.

Now, I am happy to be taught a lesson by the brain trust at TCASK on this issue. Please explain why I am wrong here. But, Ike, since you've chosen to respond, then let's see you (a) defend TCASK's thesis or (b) admit that the comparison is invalid.

Let's see you guys prove this knuckle-dragging trogolodyte who thinks that murderers should be executed wrong.

Let's see. If you ignore it, then anyone who reads this blog will know you guys cannot defend what you say.

Have at it Ike.
 
Well, I am just going to declare victory on this point. You guys are dilettantes.
 
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