death penalty news—-TEXAS

Sept. 30


Professors, judge, deacon present views on death penalty

On Thursday, Sept. 25, the University of Dallas School of Ministry hosted
a panel discussion on the death penalty. This panel was the third
installment of the ministry school's seminar series. The four panelists
were Candace M. Carlsen, a magistrate for the Criminal District Courts of
Dallas County; Dr. Richard Dougherty, associate professor of politics at
UD; Dr. John Norris, associate professor of theology at UD; and Deacon
Joseph Milligan, who has helped establish support groups for the families
of murder victims in the Dallas-Fort Worth area. Religion reporter for the
Dallas Morning News, Jeffrey Weiss, moderated the discussion. Dr. Brian
Schmisek, dean of the School of Ministry, introduced the panel.

Carlsen spoke 1st, focusing on "what the law currently is" regarding the
death penalty. She explained how the Supreme Court has diminished the
situations in which the death penalty can be imposed and extended the
rights of the accused.

Dougherty's presentation focused mainly on correcting what he called the
"pro-life position," which he described as anti-abortion and pro-capital
punishment. The Catholic Church allows for capital punishment, he said,
citing Article 2267 of the Catholic Catechism, "if this is the only
possible way of effectively defending human lives against the unjust
aggressor." He then went on to argue that the country has not been
successful at keeping convicted criminals from committing more crimes,
citing several cases where the criminals broke out of prison and committed
more crimes.

Norris also explained the contemporary Catholic teaching on the death
penalty, arguing in favor of the position that if there's any way to
protect the innocent without taking a life, the state should not take that
life. He placed special emphasis on prudence and weighing potential
escapes with possible wrongful convictions.

Presenting last, Milligan spoke from an "experiential point of view." He
told the story of his acquaintance with Jeffrey Dillingham, a convicted
murderer who received a death sentence. Dillingham converted to
Christianity while in prison and then converted other inmates. Milligan
walked with him on the day of execution, and he ended his presentation
saying, "If you have never experienced an execution, I would suggest that
you do so and then make a judgment." At the end of the individual
presentations, Weiss, the moderator, took questions from the audience for
the panelists.

(source: University of Dallas University News)