Western course invites public to anti-death penalty lectures
Professor brings capital punishment arguments into the classroom

DANBURY, CONN. — As a crusader against the death penalty, Associate Professor of Justice and Law Administration Dr. George Kain has had the opportunity to speak with innocent men who have spent time on death row. He’s talked with families whose loved ones were murdered. And he’s talked to everyone from police officers to judges, arming them with the facts about the ramifications of the death penalty.

During this spring’s semester, Kain is also talking about the controversies surrounding the death penalty at Western in a new honors course, “Capital Punishment.” The course will include lectures from several well-known anti-death penalty advocates, including Sister Helen Prejean, author of “Dead Man Walking.” The following lectures are free and the public is invited.

February 24 at 7 p.m.— Exonerated death-row inmate and activist Shujaa Graham, in the Westside Campus Center Ballroom on the university’s Westside campus, 43 Lake Ave. Extension in Danbury.

March 17 at 7 p.m. — Author/activist Jennifer Thompson-Cannino, author of “Picking Cotton” and a retired prison warden and activist Ron McAndrew in the Westside Campus Center Ballroom.

April 14 at 7 p.m. — Sister Helen Prejean, Ives Concert Hall, Midtown campus, 181 White St. in Danbury.

April 28 at 7 p.m. — Author, death row chaplain and activist Dale Recinella and author and prison chaplain Rev. Lawrence Carew.

In November 2009, Kain was involved in bringing former death-row inmate Juan Melendez to speak about his 17 years on Florida’s death row for a crime he didn’t commit. More recently, Kain was involved in educating Illinois lawmakers on the death penalty; the House and Senate in that state voted to abolish the death penalty after a 10-year moratorium.

With more and more stories like Melendez’s surfacing in recent years, the death penalty, Kain said, continues to be a hot topic of debate. In Connecticut, the case of serial rapist and murderer Michael Ross brought the issue to the local forefront. Ross was put to death in 2004 after numerous appeals and public outcries.

In addition to the lectures, the course includes the legal history, constitutional requirements and common justifications for use of capital punishment.



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