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Church Hosts Death Penalty Discussion

The Journey of Hope, a group started by murder victims’ family members who oppose the death penalty, is coming to St. Charles Borromeo Catholic Church, Arlington, on Friday, June 29, 7:30-9 p.m.

The Journey of Hope now includes death row exonerees and others with personal experience of the capital punishment system. They travel around the country and the world sharing their stories and promoting discussion of the death penalty (see www.JourneyofHope.org). The Journey’s area visit is cosponsored by the Northern Virginia chapter of Virginians for Alternatives to the Death Penalty (VADP; see www.vadp.org).

On display will be photographer Scott Langley’s “Execution Timeline” series documenting the process of an execution from all angles.

The session to be held at St. Charles Borromeo Catholic Church will include:

  • Moderator Steve Northup is the VADP executive director and a retired partner at the Richmond office of Troutman Sanders LLP. During his 35-year career, he represented a number of prisoners in post-conviction challenges to their convictions and sentences, including two inmates on Virginia’s death row.

  • Bill Pelke, Journey of Hope co-founder. In 1985 Pelke’s grandmother was stabbed to death in her home by three teenage girls. After one was sentenced to death, the memory of his grandmother’s own compassion led Pelke to oppose the death penalty. He tells the story in his book, “The Journey of Hope … from Violence to Healing.”

  • Del. Patrick Hope (D-47) has been honored by the Virginia Elder Rights Coalition, Virginia League of Conservation Voters and many other organizations. He campaigns to reform the use of solitary confinement, shackling of women prisoners during labor and many aspects of criminal justice. Hope has voted against the expansion of the death penalty in Virginia.