Jeanne Bishop comes to Baylor to talk about reporting, guns and violence

Courtesy Art

By Liesje Powers Lariat Staff Writer

Criminal defense attorney well-known gun control spokeswoman and anti-capital punishment advocate Jeanne Bishop will visit campus this week.

Following her arrival Tuesday night, Bishop will be speaking to a variety of students, including those in Chapel and the journalism, public relations and new media department.

Bishop will speak in Chapel about her Christian journey through the forgiveness of her sister’s murderer, unborn niece and brother-in-law. When originally dealing with the murder trial, Bishop was in favor of no parole, but had a change of heart after she read an article written by Randall O’Brien, previous Baylor provost and chair of the religion department.

The article, she read was titled, “No Christian man or woman is relieved of this obligation to work to reconcile with those who wronged them.” Bishop found this infuriating at the time and called O’Brien demanding clarification. She then grew close to O’Brien and his wife through counsel in wake of the murders.

The article was included in Mark Osler’s “Jesus on Death Row: The Trial of Jesus and American Capital Punishment.” Osler is a previous member of Baylor Law School faculty and a leading anti-death penalty proponent. Bishop and Osler have worked closely on the lessening of life sentences for juveniles.

Bishop will focus on the necessity of good reporting when she speaks to journalism students. A graduate of Northwestern’s Medill School of Journalism, she found herself in the position of being interviewed rather than being the journalist. Bishop was subject to bad reporting during the investigation of the murders and feels the need to stress the importance of good journalism and the lessons she learned.

Bishop is absolute in her aversion to guns given the role they played in her family’s murder. She finds it important to speak to college students about important issues like gun control.

“Here you are on the threshold of life,” Bishop said. “[This is a time] for [students] to realize how precious life is.”

Bishop has been following the recent debates over gun control at Baylor campus. A mother of two, Bishop mentioned her son’s possible interest in Baylor.

“I would hesitate to send my son to a school where people are walking around with a gun strapped to their hip,” Bishop said.

Robert Darden, a professor in the department of journalism, public relations and new media, worked to have Bishop’s presence on campus.

Darden said it was a great opportunity for students to hear about these subjects.

“Kids often echo what their parents said and come to Baylor to find a wide range of opinions.” Darden said.

Darden originally heard of Bishop through the large news coverage she received from the murder case. He later met Bishop and got to know her better at a work-related dinner.

He was sent an advanced copy of her book, “Change of Heart”, and was asked to write a short description of the work. Others who endorsed the book included Sister Helen Prejean and John Grisham.

“[The book was] incredible and moved me to tears,“ Darden said. “I said I would love to write a blurb for her book.”

Bishop will promote her book, “Change of Heart”, during her time in Waco and will be donating all proceeds to Mission Waco Legal Services. She will also attend an event at 8 p.m. Thursday at Scruffy Murphy’s, where there will be pizza and drinks. Students are welcome to come meet with Bishop and ask any questions. Donations will be accepted at this event and all proceeds will benefit the Mission Waco’s Legal Services.