Fighting the Death Penalty

 

Thursday, June 29, 2017 – 7:00 p.m.  Library of Michigan, 702 W. Kalamazoo

The Historical Society of Greater Lansing and the Michigan Political History Society is hosting nationally-recognized expert on the death penalty Eugene Gilbert Wanger in a conversation with Lansing attorney James Neal of the Loomis Law Firm, Thursday, June 29, 7 p.m. at the Library of Michigan. The event is free.

Wanger recently published the book “Fighting the Death Penalty: A Fifty Year Journey of Argument and Persuasion.” through Michigan State University Press. Books will be for sale at the event.

Michigan is the only state in the country that has a death penalty prohibition in its constitution—Eugene G. Wanger’s compelling arguments against capital punishment is a large reason it is there. The 40 pieces in this volume are writings created or used by the author, who penned the prohibition clause, during his fifty years as a death penalty abolitionist.

His extraordinary background in forensics, law, and political activity as constitutional convention delegate and co-chairman of the Michigan Committee Against Capital Punishment has produced a remarkable collection. It is not only a fifty-year history of the anti–death penalty argument in America; it also is a detailed and challenging example of how the argument against capital punishment may be successfully made.

The Eugene G. Wanger and Marilyn M. Wanger Death Penalty Collection resides at the University of  Albany M.E. Grenander Archives in New York and contains a wide range of materials on the death penalty documenting its history, efforts to abolish or reinstate the practice, its psychological impact, compatibility on religious, moral or ethical grounds, and its operation.

After graduating from Amherst College and The University of Michigan Law School, Eugene G. Wanger returned home to Lansing, Michigan to practice law. In 1961-1962 fellow voters from Lansing elected him the youngest delegate from his political party to Michigan’s Constitutional Convention where, among other provisions, he authored the section of the state constitution which bans capital punishment.  Wanger later served as Lansing’s City Attorney and chairman of Ingham County’s Board of Commissioners.

Beginning in 1972, Wanger co-chaired the Michigan Committee Against Capital Punishment, co-founded the Michigan Committee Against the Death Penalty, and been active in numerous historical organizations including the Historical Society of Greater Lansing. In 2005, he received the Champion of Justice Award from the State Bar of Michigan for superior professional accomplishments benefiting the state and nation, including his work on capital punishment.

He is a life-time member of the Michigan Political History Society.

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