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The four papers presented in this symposium reflect upon and develop the data presented and the concerns raised during a public panel at the University of Nebraska in February 2002. That panel and this symposium were organized to promote public discussion of and reflection upon an empirical study that examined the death penalty as it has been applied in Nebraska during the last quarter of the twentieth century! Those who support the death penalty, those who oppose it, and those who remain uncertain should agree at least on the following proposition. The death penalty raises some of the most important and perplexing moral, political, and legal questions that a society and its citizens of good conscience must confront. We partially define our lives, individually and collectively, by the manner in which we address the central questions of personal and political morality that we encounter. We define ourselves partially by the positions we take regarding these questions but perhaps even more fundamentally by the manner in which we pursue the inquiry through which we develop these positions. Thus, the manner in which we confront, examine, and attempt to resolve the ongoing debates regarding the death penalty constitutes an important component of the individual and collective lives we live.