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Future of Maryland's death panel is topic of panel discussion

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

FREDERICK, Md.—A panel of experts will discuss their perspectives on the future of Maryland's death penalty system Nov. 15 at
7 p.m. in the Hodson Auditorium in Rosenstock Hall at Hood College.

A reception will follow the panel discussion.

Kirk Bloodsworth, the first American sentenced to death row to be exonerated by DNA evidence; Jane Henderson, executive director of Maryland Citizens Against State Executions; and Vicki Schieber, chair of the board of directors of Murder Victim's Families for Human Rights, will discuss the issues related to the controversial punishment system, including executing an innocent person, how and if capital punishment serves victims' families, the costs of life imprisonment compared to that of execution and the pros and cons of abolishing the policy.

Bloodsworth, an honorably discharged former Marine and Maryland resident, was convicted in 1985 of sexual assault, rape and first-degree premeditated murder of a nine-year-old girl. After spending nearly nine years in prison—two of them on death row—his conviction was overturned when, through when was then groundbreaking DNA testing, he was proven innocent.

Bloodsworth has been an ardent supporter of the Innocence Protection Act since its introduction in Congress in February 2000. The IPA established the Kirk Bloodsworth Post-Conviction DNA Testing Program, a program that helps states defray the costs of post-conviction DNA testing.

Henderson, a former co-director of the Maryland-based Quixote Center and founder of its Equal Justice USA program, has been active for numerous years in national and state anti-death penalty movements. A principal moratorium organizer in the state, Henderson received the National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty's Abolitionist of the Year Award in 2002 in recognition of her leadership in the anti-death penalty crusade in Maryland.

Schieber has been outspoken in her opposition to the death penalty since her daughter, Shannon, was raped and murdered in 1998. She and her husband actively opposed the death penalty for their daughter's murderer, testifying before the U.S. Senate and several other legislative venues, and speaking regularly to church and student audiences. In 2008, she served as a member of the Maryland Commission on Capital Punishment.

The event is hosted by Hood Amnesty International and the Hood College Democrats and co-sponsored by the career center and office of service learning, the office of chaplain, the department of political science, the law and society program, the African American studies program, the honors program, Amnesty International U.S.A. and Maryland Citizens Against State Executions.

For more information, contact Marisa Mitchell, president of Hood Amnesty International, at (240) 315-8965 or by e-mail at mjm22@hood.edu; or Yvette Webster, coordinator of service learning, at webster@hood.edu or by calling (301) 696-3585.