OREM A man whose daughter was killed in the Oklahoma City bombing will speak against capital punishment next week at Utah Valley State College's Death Penalty Symposium.
Bud Welch's daughter, Julie, was killed by the 1995 bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building.
"He's gone from rage to retribution," said Sandy McGunigall-Smith, a behavioral science professor who is helping coordinate the event. "He's against the death penalty but obviously coming from a whole different perspective."
Welch has testified before Congress and to the British and European Union parliaments about his opposition to the death penalty.
Timothy McVeigh was executed in 2001 after he was convicted of federal murder charges for the Oklahoma City bombing. Another accomplice, Terry Nichols, is serving life in prison. Michael Fortier was released from prison in 2006 after convictions of lesser charges and testifying against McVeigh and Nichols.
UVSC has hosted the Death Penalty Symposium for three years.
"It's just a social issue that really needs a safe environment to be discussed," McGunigall-Smith said. "It's something society's very divided on."
The topic has been researched by McGunigall-Smith, who wrote her criminology dissertation on Utah prison inmates while at the University of Wales, and Allen Clarke, an integrated studies professor at UVSC and co-author of "The Bitter Fruit of American Justice."
"Our intent is to provide a well-balanced forum," McGunigall-Smith said. "But it's difficult to get people to talk in support of the death penalty. We've put invitations out to anybody on any side of the debate. The most responses (are) from people opposing it or taking a critical look at it."
The Death Penalty Symposium will feature other speakers on the topic, including notable academics Nils Christie of the University of Oslo, Margaret Vandiver of the University of Memphis and Hugo Bedau of Tufts University. Tom Bunker, from the Utah Attorney General's Office, will share a prosecutor's perspective on the issue.
Currently 10 inmates are on death row in Utah.
In her research, McGunigall-Smith discovered that the coping attitudes of inmates on death row were different than inmates serving life without parole.
"People drop their appeals," she said. "They prefer to be executed than spend the rest of their lives in prison."People who receive life without parole are punished in a different manner: "It's not a physical death, but it's a civil death."
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