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  • Lesson plan
  • Grades 11-12,
  • Grades 9-10

What Do I Believe? Considering Controversial Issues Like the Death Penalty

Overview

"You can't kill someone and then go home and wash dishes. It changes you from the inside out."
– Lindy Lou Wells Isonhood, Lindy Lou, Juror Number 2

Upholding the rule of law is a fundamental principle of a democracy. Doing so protects the rights of citizens, maintains order and limits the power of the government over its citizens.

Twenty years ago, Lindy Lou Wells Isonhood believed she was upholding the rule of law by serving on a jury. At the conclusion of the trial, a capital murder case, the jury handed down a death sentence to Bobby Wilcher, a Mississippi man convicted of a double homicide. Since then, Lindy has lived with an unbearable feeling of guilt over her decision. Determined to understand her remorse, Lindy embarks on a road trip across Mississippi to find her fellow jurors. A conservative former federal police officer and religious woman from the South, Lindy manages to tackle this oft-politicized topic with humor, an open mind and sincere curiosity.

In this lesson, students will have the opportunity to analyze, consider and respectfully discuss different perspectives on the death penalty by listening to Lindy's conversations with her fellow jurors, conducting independent research and reflecting on their own beliefs. Students will consider the moral, ethical and constitutional arguments used by others to support or oppose the death penalty. Then, they will articulate their own view by writing a "This I Believe" essay.

About the authors

Blueshift

Blueshift is a team of education specialists with background in environmental and social impact work. The team recognizes and builds on the power of documentary film in reaching broad audiences to spark energy for deep and lasting social change. The team works with filmmakers, photographers and writers to develop innovative educational strategies, experiences, tools and resources that bring stories off the screen and into viewers' lives.