Two Events Ask Memphians to Examine Views on Capital Punishment

Americans everywhere have been re-thinking the political, financial and moral implications of the death penalty.

“In 2013, Maryland became the sixth state to end capital punishment in the last six years. Eighteen states and the District of Columbia have abolished the penalty, and it is dormant in the federal system and the military. Thirty states have had no executions in the last five years.”

New York Times editorial “The Slow Demise of Capital Punishment” (December, 2013)

In December of last year, however, Tennessee signaled it would move in the opposite direction, pushing to execute ten people on death row.  The State’s first execution since 2009 was scheduled for January but put on hold by the Tennessee Supreme Court.  Attorneys for ten people now scheduled for death are challenging the constitutionality of using a single drug, Pentobarbital, for execution. This drug is considered controversial because its manufacturing is “poorly regulated and contaminated batches can cause excruciating pain prior to death.” Opponents of its use claim it constitutes cruel and unusual punishment.

Two events in the next few weeks will provide an opportunity for Memphians to examine their own views on capital punishment.  The first, on Wednesday, February 5th, will be held at Rhodes College.  Ray Krone, an innocent man who sat on Arizona’s death row for a decade before exoneration, will speak about his experience.  Clips from the documentary  “One for Ten” will also be shown — “One for Ten” is a series of online films about ten men wrongly sentenced to death, who were ultimately exonerated.  See the Facebook invite here. 

Screenshot 2014-02-05 09.51.03The second event is a slideshow installation at Crosstown Arts. It will be held Friday and Saturday, March 7th & 8th.  The exhibit will share the last words uttered by death row inmates in Texas between 1981 and 2014.

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