Why is the issue of capital punishment so divisive? Are Americans aware of the complexities of the issue? Capital punishment, more than any other public issue, has given rise to considerable differences of opinion in U.S. society. When a moratorium on executions in Washington state was announced in February 2014 by Governor Jay Inslee, it sparked a national debate about capital punishment. In a presentation that is designed to promote cultural change and influence policy, author and educator Dorothy Van Soest facilitates an interactive group dialogue about the death penalty. She demonstrates how the death penalty issue is multi-faceted by weaving together personal connections, scientific research, life experience and creative storytelling. She also shares stories of ordinary people facing extraordinary situations and how they have found the courage to transform themselves and the world around them.
Dorothy Van Soest is Professor Emeritus and a former dean at the University of Washington. A writer, social worker, and activist, she has published nine books, over fifty journal articles, essays, and book chapters that tackle complex issues related to violence, oppression, and injustice. Her novel, Just Mercy, published in 2014 by Apprentice House, personalizes the topic of the death penalty told through the perspective of a family. The book was informed by her widely acclaimed investigation of the lives of thirty-seven men executed by Texas in 1997, and inspired by the Texas Department of Criminal Justice’s Victim Offender Restorative Mediation Dialogue program. Van Soest holds an undergraduate degree in English literature and a Masters and Ph.D. in Social Work.
We will be raffling off two free copies of Dorothy’s book Just Mercy, which has been met with 5 stars in every single Amazon review!
We would like to thank Humanities Washington for helping us make this event possible.