Is the Death Penalty Dying?By Emily SimsBlurb: Advocates against the death penalty gather at the ACS and Human Rights LawAssociation eventIn the Walsh classroom on the bottom floor of the Underwood Law Library, Rais Bhuiyan
greeted the audience by saying “
Salamu alaikum”, the traditional greeting of Islamthat means “peace and blessings to you”. It was t
he very fact that Bhuiyan was Muslimthat resulted in him being shot not too long after 9/11. However Bhuiyan was not thereto talk about hate crimes, he was there to speak out against the death pentalty.The ACS and the Human Rights Law Association hosted its second annual eventadvocating against the death penalty Feb. 27, 2013. This year they asked the question,
“Is the death penalty dying?” For Bhuiyan and the two other speakers, SMU associate
professor of law Victoria Palacios and SMU history professor and director of the EmbreyHuman Rights Program Rick Halperin, the answer is a resounding yes.
Whatever you think about this issue, as sure as the sun is going to come up tomorrow,the process of ending the death penalty has be
gun whether you like it or not,” said
Halperin.Palacios was eager to discuss the progress being made towards abolishing the deathpenalty noting that changes are being made in court decisions, from legislatures, andthrough political discourse. She cited three different cases where the assumedpunishment would have been the death penalty but courts decided against it.Although she was pleased with victories like courts ruling that the sentencing of aretarded person to death is unconstitutional or acknowledging the existence of developmental differences between an adult and a minor, Palacios says there is still
“somuch more to be done.”
he advocate’s main goal
is to educate people about the reasons why they find thedeath penalty an unnecessary punishment. Halperin compared abolishing the deathpenalty to abolishing slavery or giving women the right to vote. Claiming that one daywe will look back on capital punishment in disbelief that we tolerated it in America.
“The immediate end of the death penalty is not at hand but it is coming in your lifetime,” said Halperin.
For Bhuiyan, he hopes the end is near. The death penalty is something very personal forBhuiyan who fought to stop the execution of the man who shot and was there at hisexecution.