Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Update from the Texas Journey

This good article appeared today in The Lariat, which is the student newspaper at Baylor University. Nice work, Journey folk!

Group hopes to raise death penalty awareness

The death penalty is reserved for criminals who have committed cruel,
inhumane crimes- acts that give their victims and their victims' loved
ones little room for compassion. But the members of Journey of Hope find

"No other group has power and authority to speak about forgiveness than
(the members of Journey of Hope). They have no reason to forgive, but they
do," Fernando Arroyo, chair of Waco Amnesty International, said.

Baylor National Association of Social Workers and Baylor Students for
Social Justice in association with Waco Amnesty International will join
Journey of Hope to speak about death penalty alternatives on campus
Thursday morning in Kayser Auditorium.

Step by Step, a documentary about Journey of Hope members will be shown
from 8:30 to 10 a.m., and Journey of Hope members will speak from 10:30
a.m. to noon. Each session will be followed by a question-and-answer

Family members of murder victims and the executed and exonerated lead
Journey of Hope. They conduct public education speaking tours to address
alternatives to the death penalty.

Amnesty International, an organization supporting different human rights
issues, is the umbrella organization for Journey of Hope. Their main
action for human rights is letter writing, but having an event on campus
is something Arroyo, said he has always wanted.

Arroyo said Amnesty International has received a lot of help from Baylor
students, especially in helping to promote 2 main campaigns - Journey of
Hope and genocide in Darfur and Sudan.

Last semester Amnesty International held 6 film sessions in Waco that many
Baylor students were involved in. This year, they hope more students will
be able to take something away from Journey of Hope since they will be
speaking on campus.

"We have the privilege of having the founders come," Arroyo said.

Executive Director Bill Pelke will speak to students and answer questions
on behalf of Journey of Hope.

"It's a platform for family members of victims to share their story, and,
in some cases, prove death row inmates' innocence," Arroyo said. "It puts
a human face on the death penalty."

Journey of Hope is not a Christian organization because it's mission is to
gather people of all belief systems who share in its mission.

"It's their faith that's helped them overcome hatred and revenge and it's
what has helped them overcome the bitterness creeping into their heart,"
Arroyo said. "They find healing and the miracle of forgiveness in their
hearts and want to pass is around in the lives of victims and their

McGregor senior Flor Avellanedo, president of Baylor's social work
association helped to organize the event. "It's a miraculous thing -- that
God gives people the power to forgive and speak on behalf of them," she

Members of Journey of Hope said they believe there's only an allusion of
closure when a murderer is executed.

Arroyo said family members end up destroying true reconciliation that
could take place after the murder of a family member.

"It's so sad to think how many innocent people we've sent to death row,"
he said "Even if it's one, it's too many."

Acknowledging that the death penalty is a controversial issue, Avellanedo
said, "We all have our opposing views of the death penalty, but it's
always good to be aware of other views so we can reflect and think twice
about what we think."

Andrea Brashier, Carrolton senior and association member, said she will
attend the event because she wants to support awareness of the justice

"I think we have a lot of room to grow in that area so I think this
program will open our eyes to thinking about other options, especially as
students of a Christian school," she said.

Arroyo hopes the event will start more dialogue about the issue and prompt

No comments: