Symposium at UVU to Discuss Restorative Justice and Capital Punishment
October 22, 2010
For Immediate Release
For more information: Michael Minch (801) 863-7482
University Marketing & Communications: Mike Rigert (801) 863-6807
Written by: Gregory Haddock (801) 863-7482
What does justice require? The responses to that question in the capital punishment debate are the primary focus of the sixth annual Symposium on Restorative Justice and the Death Penalty at Utah Valley University. Co-hosted by UVU Integrated Studies and Peace and Justice Studies, the conference will be held on Nov. 9 in the UVU Library auditorium, room LI 120.
The program’s keynote speaker will be Juan Melendez, a former death row inmate who served 17 years for a crime he did not commit. Melendez’s remarks will be followed by an address from prominent capital punishment advocate Robert Blecker.
“It is interesting to have a person who was innocent, yet sentenced to death, speak just before a rather famous proponent of the death penalty speaks. This juxtaposition will be thought provoking,” said Michael Minch, director of UVU’s Peace and Justice Studies program.
Since his exoneration in 2002, Juan Melendez has been a human rights activist and capital punishment opponent. Melendez serves on the board of directors of the organization Journey of Hope … from Violence to Healing, and is a member of the National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty. He also founded the Voices United for Justice Project.
Robert Blecker is a professor at New York Law School and nationally known capital punishment advocate. He was featured in the documentary film “Robert Blecker Wants Me Dead,” which will be screened at UVU on Nov. 8.
Other speakers will include Ralph Dellapiana, a 15-year public defender and founder of Utahns for Alternatives to the Death Penalty, and LaVarr McBride, former state corrections manager of Death Penalty Training and current victim specialist for Defense Initiative Victim Outreach. The conference will include an open panel discussion for attendees to pose questions to these and other specialists.
Designed to publicly deliberate the ethical implications of capital punishment, the annual Symposium on Restorative Justice and the Death Penalty examines current punitive justice methods and highlights an alternative approach known as restorative justice. Restorative justice is an expanding global movement intended to balance the needs of both offenders and victims by reconciling relationships.
“Societies that utilize the death penalty ought to have very good reasons for doing so,” Minch said. “This symposium will be an excellent opportunity to explore what reasons those might be.”
The University endeavors to provide students and the community with a broad spectrum of opinions and perspectives without necessarily endorsing them. For more information and full schedule of the symposium, please visit: http://www.uvu.edu/is/symposium/.