Death Penalty Discussion: Distinguished Lecturer sheds light on Missouri’s death penalty

Feb 22, 2017

Roman Catholic Nun and state execution opposer Helen Prejean led the Northwest Missouri State community in conversation about the death penalty.

The Distinguished Lecture Series was held in the Charles Johnson Theater at 7:30 p.m. Feb. 15 with the assistance of Distinguished Lecture Series Committee Chair Kenton Wilcox.

“The opportunity to cooperate with the Seminary (Conception Abbey) was part of why we chose her as a speaker,” Wilcox said. “She is also an internationally recognized voice, she has experiences that are not already represented on campus and her topics address interdisciplinary concerns, all of which help the Distinguished Lecture Series address its mission.”

Prejean taught at the Congregation of St. Joseph before beginning work at Hope House in the New Orleans St. Thomas Housing Project. She also served on the board of the National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty for 10 years, and was the chairperson for three years.

“The death penalty is one of the great moral issues facing our country, yet most people rarely think about it, and very few of us take the time to delve deeply enough into this issue to be able to make an informed decision about it,” Prejean said on her website.

Prejean acts a national voice for issues concerning the death penalty and works to help form the Catholic Church’s outright objection to state executions. She is also part of the organization, Ministry Against The Death Penalty, that “believes in the dignity of all people and fosters creative, reflective and educational programs that awaken hearts and minds, inspire social change and strengthen our democracy’s commitment to human rights,” according to their website.

“If you want a litmus test about what you think about God, look at the death penalty,” Prejean said in her presentation. “What kind of God wants the death of a human being to pay for their sins? It’s about life. He said before you, choose life. Love and forgiveness are the opposite of hate. You can’t call an act of love shackling a person to a chair and then killing them.”

The process of lethal injection normally involves the use of three drugs. The first is used to induce unconsciousness, the second causes muscle paralysis and the third stops the heart.

Missouri is one of 18 states that still use the death penalty for particularly heinous crimes, such as murder. Missouri law authorizes the use of lethal injection or lethal gas as valid forms of execution.

 

Published February 22, 2017 @TheMissourian

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