WCU’s criminal justice department explores the death penalty

How do you feel about the death penalty? Two upcoming events at Western Carolina University by the Department of Criminology and Criminal Justice will explore the public’s opinions about this controversial issue.

The first event is a presentation titled “Issues in the Death Penalty: Wrongful Convictions,” scheduled for 6 p.m. Monday, Nov. 8, in the Grandroom of A.K. Hinds University Center on the WCU campus.

The program will feature Edward Chapman, who spent 14 years on North Carolina’s death row before his convictions on two murder charges were overturned in 2008 and who now travels the state discussing his case. Chapman will be joined by Pam Laughon, a faculty member at the University of North Carolina at Asheville and a mitigation specialist who found evidence to support his release.

A panel discussion on the topic “The Death Penalty under Debate: Experts Weigh In” is scheduled for 2:30 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 9, also in the Grandroom of WCU’s University Center. The panel will feature Ken Rose, former executive director of the Center for Death Penalty Litigation, a nonprofit organization dedicated to representing capital defendants and to assisting attorneys representing persons charged or convicted in capital cases; Bob Clark, who spent 14 years as a prosecutor and another 14 years as a defense attorney and handled numerous capital cases; and Megan Smith, a member of Murder Victims’ Families for Reconciliation, whose father and step-mother were killed.

“The application of the death penalty in North Carolina has received a great deal of scrutiny in recent years,” said Cyndy Caravelis Hughes, assistant professor of criminology and criminal justice at WCU. “We invite the public to join us in hearing a panel of experts weigh in on the pros and cons of keeping the death penalty as a punishment and the effect that decision may have on the criminal justice system.”

For more information about the events, call Hughes at 828.227.2165.

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