Thinking Critically About the Cameron Todd Willingham Case
OPTION 1: Which do you think played a greater role in the outcome of the Willingham case: cognitive biases (flaws in thinking, often unconscious) or agendas (personal, political, or financial motives behind an action)?
OPTION 2: Based on what you learned from the Willingham case and the other cases we read about, does emotion help or hinder our critical thinking? Consider your own emotions and the emotions of various people involved in the case.
OPTION 3: What would you say in response to the following people who still believe in Willingham’s guilt? These are David Martin, Willingham’s lawyer, who said in the film, “He really did set that fire and kill those kids”; fire investigator Douglas Fogg, who said Willingham “was 100 percent guilty … He was as guilty as the day he was born”; and Rick Perry, who argued that Willingham was “a bad man” who cursed at his ex-wife just before he was executed.
OPTION 4: Based on what you have learned from the Willingham case and the other cases we read about, is the criminal justice system fair and competent enough to allow for the death penalty? Are the problems with the system fixable or not?