Human Rights Advocate Examines Death Penalty's Future in UGA Lecture

Event Date



Stephen Bright, director of the Southern Center for Human Rights, will speak on the future of the death penalty in a lecture at the University of Georgia Chapel on Monday, April 17 at 3:30 p.m. The lecture, cosponsored by UGA's Sagan Society and the School of Law, is open and free to the public.

Bright's lecture, "Will the Death Penalty Remain Alive in the 21st Century?" will explore his outlook for capital punishment by examining international norms, discrimination, arbitrariness, and the risk of executing the innocent. Bright has represented persons facing the death penalty at trial, on appeals and in post-conviction proceedings since 1979.

In addition to being the Southern Center's director since 1982, Bright serves as the J. Skelly Wright Fellow and Visiting Lecturer in Law at Yale Law School. He has also taught courses on capital punishment, criminal procedure and prisoners' rights at the law schools of Harvard, Emory, Georgetown and Northeastern.

"We are looking forward to hearing Stephen Bright speak," said Chris Hoofnagle, a third-year law student and founder of the Sagan Society. "His energy and dedication to ending the death penalty illustrate that attorneys can and do use their profession as a force for beneficial societal change. Attorney activists such as Stephen Bright inspire all of us to work harder and to aspire to greater career goals. His passion for law is infectious, and we anticipate that - whether or not people agree with his death penalty stance - we will all benefit from hearing him."

The Southern Center for Human Rights is a public interest legal project based in Atlanta which provides legal representation to persons facing the death penalty and to prisoners challenging unconstitutional conditions in prisons and jails throughout the South. The center also works to improve access to lawyers and the legal system by poor people who are accused of crimes or imprisoned and to bring about greater judicial independence.

Bright has testified to committees of both the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives as well as to legislative committees in Georgia, Connecticut and Texas. He has received numerous awards for his work, including the American Bar Association's Thurgood Marshall Award; theKutak-Dodds Prize, presented by the National Legal Aid & Defender Association for "extraordinary vision and inspiring leadership in the struggle against capital punishment"; and the ACLU's Roger Baldwin Medal of Honor for "extraordinary contributions to civil liberties in the United States."

Bright earned both his undergraduate and law degrees from the University of Kentucky.