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Capital punishment forum kicks off ASU's Humanities Lecture Series

August 18, 2011

Guest lecturers will discuss, debate and analyze the issue of capital punishment in a forum-style setting at ASU’s Downtown Phoenix campus.

“The Pros and Cons of Capital Punishment” will commence the fall 2011 Humanities Lecture Series, which is now in its fourth year. The forum, hosted by ASU’s School of Letters and Sciences and the Canon Leadership Program, starts at 6:30 p.m., Aug. 25, at the Nursing and Health Innovation Building Two, 550 N. Third St., Phoenix, Innovation Auditorium, room 110.

The lecture series is open to the general public and is free.

“The Humanities Lecture Series provides us with opportunities to analyze, discuss and interpret current events. We look forward to public discussions that help us understand and appreciate various points of view on political, social and cultural issues,” says Frederick C. Corey, director of ASU’s School of Letters and Sciences and dean of University College.

The School of Letters and Sciences provides students across ASU with the knowledge and skills to comprehend and effectively engage the changing world of the 21st century at local, national and global levels. Theory, creativity and applied learning are integrated as students build entrepreneurial opportunities both inside the university and in their communities.

Andrew Clemency, a public defender for the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office and adjunct associate in the School of Criminology and Criminal Justice, says capital punishment does not make economic or moral sense. He also said it’s a major burden on taxpayers.

“It costs vastly more money to execute criminals rather than to warehouse them at a state prison for the rest of their lives,” Clemency said. “Death penalty cases cost almost an average of $1 million and take about 10 to 20 years to appeal in state and federal systems. It’s really not a deterrent to crime, so why are we doing it? We’re doing it because our most base human impulse is revenge. Capital murder is the only punishment we extract in kind.”

Kent E. Cattani, chief counsel of the Criminal Appeals/Capital Litigation Section at the Arizona Attorney General’s Office, will represent the case for capital punishment. Cattani said while Arizona’s system is not perfect, his office has applied the state’s death penalty statute in a fair and just manner.

“Since 1993, Arizona has required the appointment of two highly qualified trial attorneys in every case in which the State notices its intent to seek the death penalty. We also provide experienced counsel to represent death-sentenced inmates in state appellate and post-conviction proceedings,” Cattani said. “We remain open to suggestions on how to improve the process, and as long as capital punishment remains the law in Arizona, we will continue to carry out the law as fairly as possible.”

Arizona has been carrying out death-penalty sentences since 1910 and suspended all cases from April 1962 to April 1992. The United States Supreme Court in 1972 held that the death penalty as it was administered violated the United States Constitution Eighth Amendment prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment and often was not guided in its discretion and was meted out in “arbitrary and capricious ways.”

The Arizona Legislature revised Arizona’s Death Penalty Statute and sentences became effective once again on May 1, 1979.

In 1992, the state executed its first death-row inmate in 29 years, Donald Harding, who was found guilty of murdering two men in a Tucson hotel. Harding died in Arizona’s gas chamber, an event that took 11 minutes and ultimately led to the state’s switch to lethal injection.

Since 1992 Arizona has carried out 28 executions, including four in 2011.

For directions, visit For parking information, visit For more information, call Mirna Lattouf, series lecture organizer, at (602) 496-0638.