FSU BLSA Hosts Panel on Death Penalty

Press Date
February 12, 2021

(Clockwise from top left) 3L Daynica Harley, Sister Helen Prejean, Ngozi Ndulue, 2L Lauren Rolfe and
Seth Miller during BLSA's "Racism and the Death Penalty: Arguments Surrounding Abolition" panel

Last week, our Black Law Students Association (BLSA) hosted an online panel, “Racism and the Death Penalty: Arguments Surrounding Abolition,” to discuss the disproportionate impact of the death penalty. It was the third event in BLSA’s year-long racial justice panel series. The panel featured alumnus Seth Miller (’04), executive director of the Innocence Project of Florida; Ngozi Ndulue, senior director of research and special projects at the Death Penalty Information Center; and Sister Helen Prejean, internationally recognized anti-death penalty activist and author of “Dead Man Walking,” “The Death of Innocents” and “River of Fire.” BLSA President Daynica Harley moderated the event, which was organized by BLSA Social Justice Chair Lauren Rolfe. Among other issues, panelists discussed their work, the history of the death penalty, conditions on death row, race of the victim in determining if the death penalty is imposed, jury nullification, the disproportionate imposition of the death penalty on Black people and related arguments that support abolition of the death penalty.

“Look at the track record of who has gotten death sentences and who has gotten executed,” said Sister Prejean when discussing one way race impacts the death penalty. “In eight out of ten cases it is because you killed a white person. There is outrage over the death of a person when their life is highly valued. Is anybody surprised that it is when white people are killed that the death penalty is sought and seldom for the lives of people of color, whose lives are not valued?”

Published on February 12, 2021