Stephen Bright, Anti-Death Penalty Lawyer and Abolitionist, to Speak

News Story: December 8, 2006

Stephen B. Bright, one of the nation’s leading anti-death penalty lawyers, will speak at Sacred Heart University on Wednesday, November 8, at 5:30 p.m. in University Commons. His lecture, “How Race and Poverty Determine Who Dies in America’s System of Capital Punishment,” is sponsored by SHU’s Center for Christian Thought, Ethics and Culture (CCTEC), the Criminal Justice Master’s Program, and the Criminal Justice Club. The event is free and open to the public.

Bright is president and senior counsel for the Southern Center for Human Rights in Atlanta. The Center is a public interest legal project that provides representation to persons facing the death penalty and to prisoners in challenges to cruel and unusual conditions of confinement in 11 southern states. The Center also advocates improvements in the quality of counsel for poor people accused of crimes, judicial independence and alternatives to incarceration.

He has represented people facing the death penalty at trial and on appeal and prisoners in challenges to inhumane conditions and practices. Further, he has written essays and articles on the right to counsel, racial discrimination in the criminal justice system, judicial independence, and other topics that have appeared in scholarly publications, books, magazines and newspapers. Bright has also testified before committees of both the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives. He has taught courses on criminal law and capital punishment at Harvard, Yale, the University of Chicago, Emory, Georgetown, Northeastern and other law schools.

The work of the Center and Bright has been the subject of a documentary, Fighting for Life in the Death Belt (EM Productions 2005), and two books, Proximity to Death by William McFeely (Norton 1999) and Finding Life on Death Row by Kayta Lezin (Northeastern University Press 1999).

The Fulton Daily Law Report, a legal newspaper in Georgia, named him “Newsmaker of the Year” in 2003 for his contribution to bringing about creation of a public defender system in Georgia. He received the American Bar Association’s Thurgood Marshall Award in 1998; the American Civil

Liberties Union’s Roger Baldwin Medal of Liberty in 1991; the National Legal Aid & Defender Association’s Kutak-Dodds Prize in 1992, and other awards.