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Symposium on death penalty to be held at WFU

By Jacob McConnico
336.758.5237
April 1, 2004

Students at Wake Forest University have organized the free public event, “Death Penalty Moratorium Symposium: The Case for a N.C. Moratorium,” at 7 p.m. April 13 in Benson University Center’s Pugh Auditorium.

Darryl Hunt, a Winston-Salem resident who was recently released from prison after being cleared of the 1984 murder of Deborah Sykes, will make a presentation, along with his attorney Mark Rabil. Also presenting will be Alan Gell, who was recently released from Death Row, and one of his defense attorneys, Mary Pollard, who is also a staff attorney for the Center for Death Penalty Litigation in Durham.

In addition, Stephen Dear, executive director of People of Faith Against the Death Penalty; and state Rep. Larry Womble, a retired educator from Winston-Salem, will participate. Several student groups from local colleges and universities have been invited to the event.

The proposed moratorium would not end the death penalty in North Carolina, but would suspend it, according to Liz Switzer of N.C. Students for a Moratorium, which is organizing the event.

“It will temporarily halt executions so that lawmakers can study established inequities in the distribution of capital punishment in this state,” Switzer says. “Indigent and mentally ill defendants are too-often victimized by the system. Regardless of how one feels about the death penalty, we want people to know that it is important to contact their representatives and support the moratorium. This is about more than politics; it’s just the right thing to do.”

The program is co-sponsored by the Wake Forest student chapter of Amnesty International; the university’s religion department; the C.H. Richards Fund in the university’s political science department; and the organizing committee for the 2003-2004 theme year at Wake Forest, “Fostering Dialogue: Civil Discourse in an Academic Community,” which is dedicated to the exploration of how free people with passionate interests and beliefs can communicate openly without turning dialogue into discord.

For more information, call 336-758-5694 or 336-765-9676.


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