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Black and White Judgment: Exploring the Gray in the Death Penalty Racial Biases

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    Photograph: Emily Taylor

Joshua Bruner
Faculty Sponsor: Dr. Michael Saenger

Countless statistics specify explicitly the undeniable fact that racial biases are factors that go into the decision of death in specific cases. It is my personal belief that it is awareness that goes into understanding and facilitates change. Therefore, I plan to write a series of monologues to be performed in a location on campus (preferably the Caldwell Carvey Foyer). The set of monologues would take between forty-five minutes and an hour. A different speaker would perform each monologue with a different perspective on the subject. The series would hopefully bring attention to the subject and create awareness along with a moving production. Ideas of characters so far include the death row warden, the wife of a man on death row, the prosecuting attorney, the mother of a victim, and other characters who will be added as research is continued. At this point, there will be approximately eight monologues.

To fully prepare for this, I would attend a conference on Death Penalty reform in New York City, and conduct interviews on the subject. Included in the speakers list is Sister Helen Prejean, author of Dead Man Walking. There is a national conference in New York January 30 through February 2. This will be an amazing opportunity to get quality time to speak with those who have been most affected on the subject. The dialogue is crucial in getting a better understanding of the perspective on many sides of those affected on the subject.

In addition to the monologues, I will make a pamphlet with a paper and facts that would be mailed to the entire campus prior to the performance. This will reach all students and faculty members. This will raise awareness of a subject often forgotten as well as serve for advertisement of the production.