Thursday, May 9th – 7:00-9:00 pm
Michael Kroll – Death Penalty Talk
When Gavin Newsom took the courageous and politically perilous step of declaring a moratorium on California’s death penalty, he gave Californians an unexpected chance to think about what having a death penalty tells us about ourselves as a society or even as human beings.
Michael A. Kroll has spent a significant portion of his life opposing capital punishment. In his words, “I don’t know which I hate more, the fact that many states still execute their citizens, or the fact that so many of us still want it to happen.”
On May 9, Michael Kroll will discuss the issues of capital punishment in California. He will read excerpts from his published pieces on the subject, and engage in conversation. He will also read from his memoir, Beijing & Beyond (subtitled: Eating (and spending) our way through China with personal reflections on China’s coming of age criminal justice system… and of my fellow travelers, 1981).
As the first Director of the D.C.-based Death Penalty Information Center, and a witness to California’s first execution in 1992 after a 25-year hiatus, Michael not only has a lot to say on the subject, he’s been saying it in print for decades. A native Californian, Michael came of age in the 1950s when California’s gas chamber was a regular feature of that euphemism, our “justice” system. He attended UC Berkeley where he was arrested (for the first time) in the Free Speech Movement of 1964. Following his graduation, he joined the Peace Corps and taught in a Chinese secondary school in Malaysian Borneo. In the 1970s, he directed the D.C. office of the National Moratorium on Prison Construction, did award-winning freelance journalism throughout the ‘80s, witnessed his friend’s execution by lethal gas in 1992 (his description of that traumatic event was published on the cover of The Nation), worked on behalf of death sentenced prisoners as a “mitigation specialist” in numerous cases, some very high profile, and, since 1996, has worked with incarcerated juvenile and adult prisoners in a writing program called The Beat Within. He draws on a wealth of experience in the field of criminal justice in general and, particularly, the death penalty, and looks forward to a lively back-and-forth with the audience.
Our events are put on under the umbrella of the nonprofit Bird & Beckett Cultural Legacy Project (the "BBCLP"). That's how we fund our ambitious schedule of 300 or so concerts and literary events every year.
The BBCLP is a 501(c)(3) non-profit...
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