Dead Man Walking Assigment


Amnesty’s annual report (2012) has China topping list of executions with over 1,000, Iran second with 314, US fifth with 43. The United States only country in the Americas practicing execution.  (see YNet News)

The Amnesty International report says 682 executions in 2012 in all countries other than China  were verified to have been carried out last year —only two more than 2011 —as five countries carried through with the death penalty for the first time in many years…The country that had the highest increase in the number of executions was Iraq, with almost double the 68 killed in 2011. (see Amnesty International)

Canada, on the other hand, does not have a death penalty. (see 35 years of abolition) In most cases, the most serious sentence for murder is life imprisonment with no possibility of parole for 25 years. However, if a person has a long history of violent crime, then they can be declared a “dangerous offender.” With this classification they are given an indefinite sentence with little chance of ever being paroled.

An Angus-Reid poll released in March, 2012,  suggests three out of five Canadians (60%) support reinstating the death penalty for murder. (see Amnesty International)

Sources: Amnesty International  and  Religious


Do some research to find out the arguments for and against capital punishment (death penalty)?  There are some links below to start off with.  Then take a stance on the following statement:

Should Canada reinstate the death penalty for criminals who commit first-degree murder?

This does not have to be in the form of a formal essay, but be sure to support you arguments with factual information.  Include in your discussions, the answers to the following questions.

  1. How does Ezekiel 33:11 apply to the question of capital punishment? “As I live, says the Lord God, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from their ways and live.”
  2. The concept of equal retribution “Life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot” (Deuteronomy 19:21) was actually given in order to control the all-out vengeance that had taken place up to that time. What does Jesus tell us about vengeance?  Read Matthew 5:38-42; Luke 6:27-36; Romans 12:19, and 1 Peter 3:9 to find out.  (Just go to NRSV Bible, and type in the book, chapter and verse.  When you do this, the verse(s) will come up.) How do these scriptures apply to modern day capital punishment?

Here are some links to start off with:

Against arguments:  Catholic Culture and Amnesty International USA

Pro arguments:  Pro death penalty and  Pro death penalty page (keep in mind some of these are websites of individuals, so one has to question their reliablity for statistics, etc.)

Contains both arguments:  Religious Tolerance and  Arguments for and against

Movie Study Assignment Rubric

Dead Man Walking Assignment

Select the page titled, Dead Man Walking Assignment, and execute (no pun intended) the directions provided.  The rubric used to mark this assignment is also found at the right, titled, Video Study Assignment Rubric.  Remember, assignments are worth MUCH more than reflections.

You’ve learned how to write position papers in both English and Social Studies, so I am assuming you know how.  If you don’t, then see me for help.  Your thesis must be clear.  REMEMBER, your point of view is worthless unless you can provide reasons for your point of view and support those reasons with evidence (examples, quotes, etc.).

Here are a couple of websites to help you with writing position papers.

How to write… and  Writing position papers

This may very well be your last assignment, so give it your best effort.  Some of you need to do well on this assignment to up are final mark.


Dead Man Walking Reflection 2

Select one of the questions to answer.

  1. Scene:  Matthew finally confesses to Sr. Prejean.  The dialogue went as follows:
    Sr. Prejean:    “Do you take responsibility for both of their (the victims) deaths?”
    Matthew:    “Yes ma’am.” (Matthew breaks down and cries)
    Sr. Prejean:    “…You did a terrible thing.  But you have dignity now.  Nobody can take that from you.  You are a Son of God, Matthew”.
    Matthew: (crying)     “Nobody ever called me a Son of God before.  They’ve called me a son of a you know what…”

What does Helen mean by “dignity”?  What does the above conversation tell you about Matthew’s self-esteem? You may need to draw from your unit one notes. Why was Sr. Prejean so insistent that Matthew takes responsibility for his actions? What does Sr. Prejean mean by “You are a Son of God, Matthew.”

2.  During another discussion between Sr. Prejean and Matthew   Poncelet the following dialogue occurs:
Sr. Prejean:    “Was your Daddy a racist?”
Matthew:    “What kind of question was that?”
Sr. Prejean:    “You have to teach a child to hate.  I was just wandering who taught you.”
Matthew:    “I just don’t like niggers.”
Sr. Prejean:    “Have you ever known any black people?”
Sr. Prejean:     (Talking about black people) “...I know some pretty cool people.  A lot of hard working people.”
Matthew:    “I know a lot of welfare taking coloreds sucking up tax dollars”
Sr. Prejean:   “Have you ever been the object of prejudice?”
Matthew:    “No.”
Sr. Prejean:    “What do you think people say about men on death row?”
Matthew:      “I don’t know.  Why don’t you tell me.”
Sr. Prejean:    “They’re all monsters.  Disposable human waste.  Good for nothing sucking up tax dollars.”

What is prejudice?  Does prejudice come from ignorance? Are people taught to hate?  Explain.   Do you agree that people on death row are “all monsters?  Disposable human waste.  Good for nothing sucking up tax dollars.” Why or why not?  Remember, your opinion has no validity unless you provide reasons with evidence or examples.

3.  During a discussion between Sr. Helen Prejean and a Catholic Priest, the Priest says, “Are you familiar with the Old Testament?  Thou shalt not kill (Exod 20:13).  If anyone sheds the blood of man, his blood shall be shed.” (Gen 9:6).  Sr. Helen responds with, “Yes Father.  Are you familiar with the New Testament where Jesus talks about grace and reconciliation? (Matthew 6:14)” Why is there two very differing views on how to deal with murderers in the bible? Explain.   Which testament (old or new) should be given president?  Why?  Is using scripture text to justify your position acceptable?  Why or why not?

To help you understand the two dominant images of God in scripture, go to bible, and enter Genesis 6:11-13 to get a feeling of the OT image of God.  Then to get a feeling for the NT image of God, enter 1 John 4:7-9 and 1 John 16-17.

Reflection Rubric

Dead Man Walking Reflection 1

Select one of the questions to answer.

1.  Scene:  Matthew’s lawyer, Millard Farmer, was discussing the up coming Pardon Board hearing.  During that discussion, the lawyer says, “It’s easy to kill a monster.  It’s hard to kill a human being.  That’s why we need people that know you.” Is it possible for a human being to be less than a human being?  Explain. If needed, Get More Info before you take the decision.  Does society justify killing by viewing people as something less than human?  Support your answer with examples.  Here is an example of where dehumanization language was used, Severin suspended.

2.   Mr. Percy, Hope’s (one of the murder victims) father, says, “Matthew is God’s mistake!” Do you agree with Mr. Percy?  Does God make mistakes?   Here is an interesting response to that question from  What causes human beings, created in the image of God, to commit such inhuman acts as rape and murder?  Provide a detailed response to this question.

Ethical Issues Reflection:Dead Man Walking

Select the page at the right titled, Dead Man Walking Reflection 1 or 2 (whichever you are asked to do) and select one of the questions to answer.  Remember, what I am looking for is some deeper level thinking that young adults, at a grade twelve level, should be able to do.  The rubic at the right titled, Reflection Rubric will be used to grade this assignment.  When you have completed the reflection, print it and hand it in.picture-11

RS 35: At Issue: The Death Penalty

Select one or more of the following articles to read, then answer  the question below.  Once you have completed the reflection question, print it and hand it in for grading.

Albertan on Death Row

Canadian on death row in Iran

Canadian on death row in Saudi Arabia

Reflection Question:

Is capital punishment (death penalty) ever justified?  You must provide reasons for your answer and provide evidence from one or more of the articles from above.  You must also draw upon the concepts (conscience, Kohlberg’s postulates, etc.)  you learned in the ethics unit.  It might be helpful to know the pros and cons regarding the death penalty, so it is worthwhile to visit Balanced for a concise list of arguements.picture-2