Past Event

Lethal Injection on Trial

Guest Speaker Announcement:

Café Society is excited to be hosting guest speakers on this week’s topic in three locations! Julien Ball (Campaign to End the Death Penalty), Jane Bohman (Illinois Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty) and Charles Hoffman (Illinois Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty) will join the conversations at Pause, the Chicago Cultural Center and Ron’s Barbershop.

For more information about our speakers and details on location see below.

Lethal Injection on Trial

Over the course of the last year, ever greater scrutiny has been building over the practice of lethal injection. Once perceived as more humane than the electric chair, as a result of recent high profile botched executions, lethal injection is being reconsidered as a potentially “cruel and unusual punishment.” Currently the most common form of execution in the United States, the practice was suspended over the last year in California, Delaware, Louisiana, Missouri, New Jersey and is being challenged in the courts and in nine additional states over ethical concerns.

In California and North Carolina executions came to a halt due to the refusal of physicians to administer the injections.Physicians across the country have been organizing to consider the ethics of any role that medical professionals would play in ending the lives of prisoners. Does their oath as professionals to “do no harm” take precedent over a potential obligation to the State? Should physicians be mandated to administer lethal injections? What are the implications of having them do so?

The recent botched execution of Angel Diaz in Florida, has givenrise to other emerging issues concerning the procedure, including how much pain it causes. For 34 minutes, Diaz winced, gasped for air and appeared to be in pain before he was pronounced dead. How do we decide what forms of execution are cruel and unusual? What rights should the accused be allowed? Although there are obviously degrees of cruelty, is the death penalty inherently cruel? What is the moral significance of execution by lethal injection? Should morality be a factor in deciding whether the death penalty should be permitted? Do the problems with lethal injection create a platform for other issues related to the death penalty ongoing national debate?

Join us this week at Café Society to share whether you think lethal injection is a form of torture.

This Week’s Articles:

Lethal Injection: A Closer Look

Tortured in the Death Chamber

John Stuart Mill – “Speech In Favor of Capital Punishment”


So Long as They Die Summary

Witness to an Execution

More About Our Guest Speakers:

Julien Ball has been active with the Campaign to End the Death Penalty (CEDP) since 2001. He worked on campaigns in Chicago to free former Death Row prisoner Madison Hobley and to push former Gov. Ryan to grant blanket clemency to all Death Row inmates. He is currently involved in efforts to win justice for torture victims under former Chicago Police Commander Jon Burge and is working with legislators introducing death penalty abolition legislation in the Illinois Senate. He is a frequent contributor to The New Abolitionist on issues concerning the flaws of capital punishment and the judicial system.

Jane Bohman is Executive Director of the Illinois Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty, a statewide grassroots organization that educates the public about the flaws and injustices in the Illinois capital punishment system. The Coalition issues comprehensive yearly reports on the Illinois death penalty system that carefully document ongoing problems in the system. Jane serves as a Vice-president of the National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty and has been recognized by Crain’s Chicago Business as one of Chicago’s 100 Most Influential Women.

Charles Hoffman , a native Chicagoan, graduated from the University of Illinois Law School in 1974. He then joined the Peoples Law Office in Chicago, where he specialized in civil rights and criminal defense work. Since 1986, he has served as an Assistant Defender in the Supreme Court Unit of the Illinois State Appellate Defender, specializing in death penalty appeals. He has represented 30 clients in the Illinois Supreme Court who were sentenced to death. He is a longtime member of the Board of Directors of the Illinois Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty. In 1987, he successfully sued the Illinois Department of Corrections under the state Freedom of Information Act to obtain the execution procedures the DOC planned to use when Illinois changed its method of execution from electrocution to lethal injection.

For more informaiton, please contact Kristin Millikan at 312.422.5580.