The Catholic University of America

Oct. 22, 2015

Film Premiere Explores the Death Penalty in the U.S

  Claudia Bornholdt, acting dean of arts and sciences, speaks at the premiere of a documentary about the first death row inmate exonerated by DNA evidence in the United States.

The premiere of a new documentary, Bloodsworth: An Innocent Man, drew an audience of about 200 people earlier this week to Father O’Connell Hall for an event presented by The Catholic University of America and the European Union (EU) Delegation to the United States.

The film, which tells the story of Kirk Bloodsworth — the first death row inmate exonerated by DNA evidence in the United States — drew applause from the audience in the building’s Heritage Hall.

Following the premiere on Tuesday, Oct. 21, Bloodsworth and Gregory Bayne, producer of the documentary, engaged in conversation with the audience.

Bloodsworth was wrongly convicted of the 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.

In her welcoming remarks, Claudia Bornholdt, acting dean of the School of Arts and Sciences, noted that 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.”

David O’Sullivan, the European Union ambassador to the United States, also spoke prior to the screening. Henne Schuwer, the Netherlands ambassador to the U.S., attended the event along with representatives of several organizations working to end the death penalty that included the Catholic Mobilizing Network.

This event was 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 was organized in relation to the World and European Day against the Death Penalty, which took place on Oct. 10.

In a joint resolution released on that day this year, the European Union and its 28 member states noted their strong opposition 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, noted the significance “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.”

“This was 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.”






More news from CUA