Prejean has witnessed six executions in her role as a death
row spiritual advisor. She has written a pair of books, “The Death of
Innocents: An Eyewitness Account of Wrongful Executions” and “Dead Man Walking:
An Eyewitness Account of the Death Penalty,” which was on the New York Times
bestseller list for 31 weeks and has been translated into 10 languages. The
1996 Academy Award-winning movie, “Dead Man Walking,” is based on the book.
In 2011, Prejean donated her personal archives to DePaul,
which include journals, notes from meetings, letters, speeches and other
artifacts such as personal correspondence and manuscripts for her books. She
makes an annual visit to campus to speak in classes and meet with leaders about
During his tenure as a prison superintendent with the Oregon
Department of Corrections, Thompson oversaw two executions and has since
changed his stance on capital punishment, writing opinion pieces for The New
York Times and The Statesman Journal.
Klugman, a bioethicist, joined the health sciences
department in DePaul’s College of Science and Health in 2013. He is an expert
on the ethics of end-of-life scenarios, euthanasia, and assisted suicide.
Klugman has written on the topics of physician involvement in war and torture
and worked on the “Prison Health Project” in 1997 as a graduate student.
“During U.S. history, there has been an acknowledgement that
execution is a cruel and inhumane punishment. The guillotine, the removal of
automatic sentences of death, the electric chair, the gas chamber, and even
lethal injection were all created to find a humane way to end a person's life.
Even among supporters of the death penalty, there has been a realization that
there is something inhuman about state-sanctioned killing. In 1968, the
Witherspoon v. Illinois case led to a nearly 10-year ban on executions in the
U.S.,” said Klugman.
“From an ethics standpoint, Kant tells us that the
deliberate taking of a human life is a violation of the moral law. One can also
argue that the risk of killing even one innocent person outweighs any benefit
of any execution,” said Klugman. “On the other side, John Stuart Mill believed
in the death penalty when there is no doubt about guilt and when the person is
generally bad. He said ‘to blot him out from the fellowship of mankind and from
the catalogue of the living is the most appropriate.’”
Discussion topics are expected to include the ethics behind
the death penalty, lethal injections and botched executions, and the roles of
correctional and medical professionals in executions. The panelists will also
address the series of planned executions and ongoing legal challenges in
“Audience members should expect a lively discussion about
the morals, ethics and facts of execution in a civil society,” said Klugman.
Griffin Hardy will moderate the discussion. He is special
projects coordinator for Prejean in DePaul’s Office of Mission and Values,
which is hosting the event. Hardy also is communications coordinator for the
Ministry Against the Death Penalty, a Catholic anti-capital punishment group
founded by Prejean.
The discussion will begin at 6 p.m. in the Student Center,
2250 N. Sheffield Ave., Room 120B, on DePaul’s Lincoln Park Campus. Admission
is free and open to the public. More at http://bit.ly/MV_Prejean.