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Capital Punishment Center to host symposium on “Mass Incarceration and the Death Penalty,” March 22–23, 2013

On March 22–23, 2013, the Capital Punishment Center at the University of Texas School of Law will sponsor a symposium on “Mass Incarceration and the Death Penalty.” Presentations will explore the possible connections between two current and much-discussed criminal justice phenomena: the United States’s disproportionately high rate of incarceration and its status as the only Western democracy that retains the death penalty.

The event will commence on Friday, March 22, at 1:00 p.m. with a keynote address by Erwin Chemerinsky, founding dean of the University of California, Irvine School of Law. Chemerinksy, a distinguished constitutional law scholar, regularly participates in significant criminal appeals on a pro bono basis. His address will be followed by two panels on Friday afternoon, with another set of presentations on Saturday morning.

The first panel, “Same Effects, Same Causes: Comparing/Contrasting Punitiveness in the Capital and Non-Capital Realms,” will feature eminent criminologist Jonathan Simon of  the University of California, Berkeley School of Law, and attorney Miriam Gohara, senior counsel with the Federal Capital Habeas Project in New York.  Rob Owen, clinical professor and codirector of the Law School’s Capital Punishment Center, will comment on the papers, and Jordan Steiker, the Judge Robert M. Parker Chair in Law at the Law School (and codirector of the Capital Punishment Center), will moderate the panel.

Friday’s second panel will examine the question: “Stabilization and Legitimation: Does the Continued Retention of the Death Penalty Heighten or Lower Scrutiny of Non-Capital Practices?” The presentation will feature Ashley Nellis of the Sentencing Project, Carol Steiker, Henry J. Friendly Professor of Law at Harvard Law School, and Jordan Steiker. Jeffrey Abramson, professor of law and government at the University of Texas at Austin and a jury system expert, will moderate.

Saturday will feature two panels.  At 9:00 a.m., the conference will explore “Cost, the Death Penalty, and Incarceration.” Panelists will include Marie Gottschalk of the University of Pennsylvania, and two affiliated faculty of the Law School’s Capital Punishment Center, Gretchen Sween and Meredith Martin Rountree.  Rountree is a current fellow with the Capital Punishment Center and a previous co-director of the Law School’s Capital Punishment Clinic.  Michele Deitch, senior lecturer with the LBJ School of Public Affairs, will moderate.

The final panel, “Race, Mass Incarceration, and the Death Penalty,” will begin Saturday at 10:45 a.m. Chemerinsky will moderate a discussion including presentations by Mona Lynch and Andrew Taslitz. Mona Lynch is professor of criminology, law, and society at the University of California, Irvine, where she codirects the Center in Law, Society, and Culture and serves as vice-chair of the Department of Criminology, Law, and Society.  Andrew Taslitz is professor of law at American University.  This panel will also feature Diann Rust-Tierney, executive director of the National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty, as a discussant.

The symposium is free and open to the public. The papers presented at the event will be published in the American Journal of Criminal Law, one of the nation’s longest running and most prolific legal publications. The AJCL is a student-edited journal housed at the Law School. The symposium is co-sponsored by the AJCL and the William Wayne Justice Center for Public Interest Law.

Contact: Jordan Steiker, University of Texas School of Law, 512/232-1346, jsteiker@law.utexasa.edu.

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