Monday, March 3, 2008

Another thing I don’t understand about the United States

I came across this poster for an Alternative Spring Break designed to bring students to Austin, Texas for five days of anti-death penalty activism, education and entertainment. Participants will attend workshops led by experienced, knowledgeable presenters who will teach them skills that they can use to go back home and set up new anti-death penalty student organizations or improve ones that may already exist. The skills participants will learn can also be used in other issues besides the death penalty.

Students will gain valuable training and experience in grassroots organizing, lobbying, preparing a direct action and media relations. During the week, students will immediately put what they learn into action during activities such as a Death Penalty Issues Lobby Day and a Protest Day. There will be opportunities to write press releases, speak in public, meet with legislators or their aides, and conceive and carry out a direct action.

There were 42 executions in the U.S. in 2007, with Texas leading the nation (26) in number of executions. Since the U.S Supreme Court ruling in 1976 that allowed executions to resume after a four-year period during which they were considered unconstitutional, there have been 1099 executions in the United States. Texas has performed 405 of those executions, which amounts to about 37 percent of the national total. According to the 2000 census, Texas has only 7.4 percent of the nation's entire population.

Canada abolished the Death Penalty in 1976 and although there is often public outrage after a particular heinous crime, public opinion has never wavered. Don’t bother trying to debate the issue with me – it won’t be of any use. I’m just happy to see that students could consider spending their free time on such an issue.

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