Dordt College News

Death penalty, forgiveness are focus of 10 day series of events

February 26, 2008

Dead Man Walking

The death penalty, restorative justice, and the place of confession and forgiveness in the Christian community will be the topic of a series of events on the campus of Dordt College February 21- March 1.

Events include six performances of Dead Man Walking presented by the Dordt Theatre Department; Dinner and Dialog (student lectures and discussion about capital punishment); and guest speakers Doug Tjapkes (INNOCENT organization), Maureen Fenlon (Dead Man Walking School Theatre Project), and Gail Rice (Christian Reformed Church synod’s Restorative Justice study committee).

Dead Man Walking will be presented Feb. 21, 22, 23, 28, 29 and March 1, at 7:30 p.m. in the Te Paske Theatre, located at Sioux Center High School. This drama depicts the contemporary story of Sister Helen Prejean, a Catholic nun, who is assigned to be spiritual counselor to a convicted rapist, murderer in his final days before execution. For tickets, call the box office at 722-6430 (Monday-Thursday 1-5 and 7-9; Friday 1-5 p.m.) or reserve tickets on-line. The ticket price is $8 for adults, $6 for middle/high school students (this play not advised for children under 12), and $5 for Dordt students.

“Live People Talking about Dead Man Walking will be Monday, Feb. 25, at 7:30 p.m. in Classroom Building lecture hall C160. Three Dordt students will present 10 minute lectures for or against the death penalty, with thought-provoking and contrasting perspectives. Dialogue regarding their stances will be moderated by Professor David Schelhaas.

“Sweet Freedom” will be the topic of speaker Doug Tjapkes on Tuesday, Feb. 26, at 7:30 p.m. in Classroom Building lecture hall C160. Tjapkes is the founder and president of an organization called INNOCENT, a non-profit prisoners’ rights group. He is also the author of Sweet Freedom, which relates a 10 year effort to free Maurice Carter, an African-American imprisoned 29 years for a crime he did not commit. Tjapkes is a former broadcast journalist, radio station owner, and the winner of the prestigious Advancement of Justice Award presented by the State Bar of Michigan.

“The Death Penalty: Vengeance or Justice?” will be Wednesday, Feb. 27, at 7:30 p.m. in Classroom Building lecture hall C160, with dialogue between invited guests, Sister Maureen Fenlon and Gail Rice. Sister Maureen is the national coordinator of the Dead Man Walking School Theatre Project; has done pioneering work to humanize the U. S. prison system; and has served as national coordinator of NETWORK, a Catholic social justice lobby based in Washington, D. C. Gail Rice has served on the CRC synod’s Restorative Justice study committee. Rice became involved in issues of capital punishment and prison ministry after her brother, a Denver policeman, was murdered during a botched burglary attempt.

Sister Maureen will also be a guest speaker at chapel, Thursday, Feb. 28, held at the B.J. Haan Auditorium at 10:50 a.m.

Anyone interested in these free events is welcome to attend.
To make theatre reservations, call the box office at 722-6430 or reserve tickets on-line at

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