The Catholic University of America

Oct. 19, 2015

Film Premiere to Explore the Death Penalty in the U.S

The Catholic University of America is partnering with the European Union (EU) Delegation to the United States this week to host the premiere of a new documentary, “Bloodsworth: An Innocent Man.”

The film tells the story of Kirk Bloodsworth, the first death row inmate exonerated by DNA evidence in the United States. Bloodsworth was wrongly convicted of rape and murder of a 9-year-old girl, Dawn Hamilton, in 1984. He was later released and pardoned in 1993 after serving nine years in jail, including several on death row.

The event, which will include a reception, will take place in Heritage Hall, 620 Michigan Ave. N.E., Washington, Oct. 20, at 6 p.m.

Welcoming remarks for the evening will be presented by Claudia Bornholdt, interim dean of the School of Arts and Sciences; David O’Sullivan, the European Union ambassador to the United States; and Gregory Bayne, the producer of the documentary. The film will be followed by a conversation with Kirk Bloodsworth and Bayne.

This event is part of the European Union’s Rendez-Vous series, which features senior EU and U.S. leaders discussing today’s most significant issues. This particular event is organized in relation to the World and European Day against the Death Penalty, which took place on Oct. 10.

According to a joint resolution released on that day this year, the European Union and its 28 member states are strongly opposed to the death penalty under any circumstances. The statement reads: “The death penalty is inhuman and degrading treatment, does not have any proven significant deterrent effect, and allows judicial errors to become irreversible and fatal.”

Bornholdt, who founded Catholic University’s Center for European Studies, said she believes the event echoes Pope Francis’s words against the death penalty during his address to a joint session of Congress on Sept. 24. During that session, the pope evoked the golden rule and society’s “responsibility to defend human life at every stage of its development.”

“This conviction has led me, from the beginning of my ministry, to advocate at different levels for the global abolition of the death penalty,” the Pope said. “I am convinced that this way is the best, since every life is sacred, every human person is endowed with an inalienable dignity, and society can only benefit from the rehabilitation of those convicted of crimes.”

“I cannot tell you how pleased and excited I was when the European Delegation contacted me about the possibility of hosting the screening of Gregory Bayne’s documentary here at Catholic University, a mere four weeks after we were able to host Pope Francis on our campus,” Bornholdt said.

“This is a rare opportunity for the University community to join forces with representatives from various European Embassies and the United States Congress for a candid discussion of this issue so closely tied to the Church’s mission.”

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