Dead Man Walking Book Reflection Paper
For this class, students are required to write a book reflection of the non-fiction book, Dead Man Walking by Sister Helen Prejean. The purpose of reading the book is for students to think critically and analyze the death penalty.
INSTRUCTIONS: Please refer to the next pages for tips about how to write a good book review. Simply writing about what the book is about is NOT sufficient. Below is a list of prompts to help you get started. Please note that these questions are not meant to be an exhaustive list of question to consider when writing your reflection; they are simply prompts to help you start writing.
1.) Before reading the book, you may want to consider what you already know about the topic from past experience, research or courses. This will allow you to better gauge how the book has shaped your opinion about this topic. What is the author?s main goal in writing this book? Explain the background of an event. Is the author trying to raise awareness about a particular issue? What are the author?s main points? What kind of evidence does the author provide to make her points? How convincing is this evidence? 2.) What was the book about? Please provide a brief summary of the book.
3.) What did you find most interesting about this book?
4.) What parts of the book did you agree with (if any) and why do you agree?
5.) What parts of the book did you disagree with (if any) and why do you disagree?
6.) Is there anything that you think could have made this documentary better?
7.) How do the issues and themes discussed in the book relate to class materials (i.e. textbook reading, lectures, class discussions, etc.)?
8.) What did you learn from this book?
9.) How has this book shaped your view on the issues discussed?
10.) What are some policy and practice implications of the information discussed in this book? In other words, what can policymakers, criminal justice practitioners, the legislature, or the public in general do to fix the issue(s) discussed?
Additional specific questions:
11.) Has reading this book caused you to reexamine your position on the death penalty? Which arguments did you find more persuasive: Sister Helen?s against the death penalty, or the Harveys? in favor of it? Is it true that the Harveys? loss has hardened them against the idea of
mercy; it is also true that Sister Helen has never lost a family member to a violent crime. If you were in the Harveys? position, do you think that you, too, would support the death penalty?
12.) Sister Helen describes the legal system as “a system of gates that shut like one-way turnstiles, and you can?t go back once you?ve come out” [p. 45]. The long appeals process would seem to ensure a fair trial for all, but in actuality the prisoner?s success within it depends upon how good a lawyer he can afford to hire. Has the experience of reading Dead Man Walking changed your views of the American legal system, and, if so, in what way?
13.) Sister Helen asks Phelps his opinions on some questions that have been bothering her. “Aren?t there, I argue, some rights fundamental to human beings? such as the right not to be tortured or killed? that everyone, including governments, must respect? Doesn?t the moral foundation of a society erode if its government is allowed to treat these fundamental, nonnegotiable rights as some sort of privilege, which they take on themselves to dispense for good behavior or withdraw for bad behavior?” [p. 103] What are your opinions on these issues? Do you agree with Sister Helen that, according to Amnesty International?s definition of torture, Pat Sonnier was tortured?
FORMAT: ? Minimum of 4-6 pages (not including the title page and reference page) ? APA Format (See http://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/560/01/) ? Times New Roman/size 12 font ? 1 inch margins ? Body: double spaced
SOURCES: ? In addition to the Dead Man Walking novel and the required course textbook, you are required to use at least one additional scholarly source to support your opinion on the issue. You must cite your sources in-text and in a bibliography/reference page.
Dead Man Walking Reflection Grading Rubric
GRADING CRITERIA POSSIBLE
Content: All required prompts have been addressed sufficiently, including (a) a brief summary of the topics/issues discussed in the documentary, (b) a discussion on how this topic and the issues discussed relate to the course materials, (c) a detailed discussion of your opinion on the issue(s) discussed and (d) the use of additional information from at least one outside scholarly source to support your opinion on the topic discussed. The discussion of the documentary demonstrates evidence of solid understanding of the main issues discussed and also provides evidence of critical thinking.
Use of Scholarly Sources and Citations: The paper also references a minimum of 1 additional source besides the documentary to inform their work and support their opinion The additional sources and the documentary are cited within the body of the paper as well as fully in the references list at the end of the paper in proper APA format.
Clarity of Expression and Mechanics: The writing is clear and well organized. The reader does not have to struggle to understand what the writer is saying. The paper has been proofread so there are few if any errors in spelling, capitalization and grammar.
The paper is in full APA format, including a title page, a running head on each page, page numbers on each page, double-spaced, 1 inch margins. The paper should also be in Times New Roman, size 12 font.