Death is DifferentAs courts, government, and society address the myriad of social, legal and moral issues surrounding the continued application of the death penalty, more than 200 inmates sit on Ohio's death row awaiting execution. Empowered by the recent action of Illinois Governor George Ryan who commuted 167 death row inmates' sentences in his state, students at Case Western Reserve University School of Law saw an opportunity for a closer public examination of the legal issues Governor Ryan classified as "arbitrary and capricious, and therefore immoral." After petitioning the school to expand the school's death penalty curriculum, which will soon include a lab/clinic component, students began their own organization called Death is Different, A Death Penalty Forum. The name reflects the underlying purpose of the organization.
To further its goal of providing the law school community with valuable information on the death penalty, the student organization will not take a stance on what has proven to be one of the most controversial issues in society today. To develop an informed population it is vital that the information be open and accessible to those on all sides of the issue. Death is Different has developed subcommittees for student research and deliberation. This year the committees have chosen to focus on juvenile death penalty standards, caps on civil liability for those wrongfully convicted, and actual innocence claims.