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Panel to discuss redemption, death penalty and Kelly Gissendaner

Emory Report | Sept. 22, 2015

“No One is Beyond Redemption: A Candler Conversation on Capital Punishment and the Scheduled Execution of Kelly Gissendaner” will be Tuesday, Sept. 22, at 5 p.m. in the Candler School of Theology’s Rita Anne Rollins Building, Room 252.

Hosted by the Candler School of Theology, the event was prompted by the warrant issued on Friday, Sept. 18, for the execution of Georgia inmate Gissendaner and is “a continuation of our ongoing connection with Gissendaner,” according to Liz Bounds, Candler associate professor of Christian ethics.

Panelists for the discussion are Bounds; Robert Franklin, James T. and Berta R. Laney Professor of Moral Leadership at Candler; and human rights attorney Katie Chamblee, a staff attorney with the Southern Center for Human Rights who focuses on death penalty cases in Georgia and Alabama.

The Emory community and the public are invited to join in a conversation about what the death penalty in general and Gissendaner’s execution in particular mean for the ways a community seeks to live out its Christian faith.

Gissendaner is scheduled for execution sometime between Sept. 29 and Oct. 6. She is the only woman on Georgia's death row and a graduate of the Certificate in Theological Studies program Candler co-sponsors at Lee Arrendale State Prison. Bounds co-founded the Certificate in Theological Studies program at the prison.

“Candler students and faculty have connected to Kelly through our Contextual Education program and, especially through teaching in the Certificate of Theological Studies at Lee Arrendale Prison from which Kelly graduated in the 2010,” Bounds says.

“We want others to understand the way Kelly not only takes responsibility for the murder she had planned but also tries to act out of her understanding of redemption and compassionate love,” she continues.  “Seeing her as a full person raises questions not only about her death sentence but about the continued use of executions, rather than life sentences, in the United States.”

Emory’s Center for the Study of Law & Religion is assisting in sponsoring the discussion.