Conference Asks Students To Examine Death Penalty Stance - | Nashville News, Weather & Sports

Conference Asks Students To Examine Death Penalty Stance

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. - Ndume Olatushani hopes his story of a wrongful conviction and being sentenced to die is what students attending the "Tennesseans For Alternatives to the Death Penalty" conference consider when evaluating their stance on the issue.

"I spent 28 years in prison, 20 on death row for a crime I didn't commit," he said. "I'm here despite the system, not because the system actually worked."

You would expect an exonerated inmate to be opposed to the death penalty, but what about a victim's family?

"She was abducted in the Sears parking lot," Charles Strobel said about the murder of his mother Mary Catherine. "A random act of violence. (She was) driven around in a car for over three hours before he finally murdered her."

Mary Catherine Strobel left such a mark in this community, she continues to be remembered.

"She was full of love and life," son Charles Strobel said. "We didn't need to take on that power. That's reserved for God alone," he said about his stance on the death penalty.

Currently, 82 inmates are on Death Row in Tennessee.

"You commit a crime; there should be a punishment," Arthur Clemons, a Volunteer State student and corrections officer said.

Not all of the students at the Tennesseans For Alternatives to the Death Penalty conference are against it.

"I think it should be cut and dry. If you're convicted of first degree murder, you should get the death penalty," Clemons said, adding violent rapes should also qualify.

"I think if the death penalty were on trial as a person we would find it guilty of not being fair in every case because it's bias towards the poor and minorities," Strobel said.

The unfairness of the justice system claimed most of Olatushani's life.

"28 years...a lot was taken from me. A lot was really taken from me," he said.

But is that enough to get rid of the death penalty all together?

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