09/23/2011 05:54 pm ET | Updated Nov 23, 2011

Understanding The Death Penalty: A Family Dinner Table Talk

This week's Family Dinner Table Talk, from HuffPost and The Family Dinner book:

If you logged on to Twitter on Wednesday, you might have noticed multiple trends referencing Troy Davis: #IAmTroyDavis, #TheWholeWorldIsWatching, or on Thursday, #RIPTroyDavis. Most children hadn’t heard Davis's name before because he was accused of murdering a police officer over 20 years ago and has been in jail ever since.

Even though Davis never plead guilty to murder (he swore he was innocent), he was sentenced to death. Typically, it takes years for someone on death row to be executed, so it isn’t uncommon that Davis was there for 21 years.

The death penalty is a highly controversial topic – many people argue passionately that it should be abolished. But, others think execution is an appropriate punishment for the most horrific crimes. The issue becomes most fraught when you think about it from the perspective of a victims' family members who may want vengeance. But, is revenge something the law should uphold? In this case, people on both sides of the issued agreed: if there was even the smallest chance that Davis was innocent, he should not have been sent to his death. On the day of his execution, protestors around the world stood up. The Supreme Court reconsidered their decision, but in the end, he was executed by lethal injection.

Questions for discussion:

  • Do you have questions about the events surrounding Troy Davis's case?
  • What's your opinion on whether the United States should abolish the death penalty?
  • If you think the death penalty is an unfair punishment, what are some actions you can take?

In her new cookbook, The Family Dinner, Laurie David talks about the importance of families making a ritual of sitting down to dinner together, and how family dinners offer a great opportunity for meaningful discussions about the day's news. "Dinner," she says, "is as much about digestible conversation as it is about delicious food."

We couldn't agree more. So HuffPost has joined with Laurie and every Friday afternoon, just in time for dinner, our editors highlight one of the most compelling news stories of the week -- stories that will spark a lively discussion among the whole family.

To see last week's Family Dinner Download, click here.

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For more tips and recipes, check out The Family Dinner: Great Ways to Connect with Your Kids, One Meal at a Time by Laurie David and Kirstin Uhrenholdt (