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April 13, 2009

Capital Punishment Center conference on race and the death penalty, April 16, 2009

The Capital Punishment Center at the University of Texas School of Law will present a conference entitled, “Imprisoned by the Past: The Enduring Role of Race in the American Death Penalty,” on April 16, 2009. It will be held in the Eidman Courtroom from 10:15 a.m to 5:15 p.m. The conference is free and open to the public.

Bryan Stevenson, Director of the Equal Justice Initiative and Recipient of a MacArthur Foundation Fellowship, will present the keynote address on “Confronting Injustice: Race, Poverty and Psychic Harm” at 12:30 p.m. in the Charles L. Francis Auditorium, Room 2.114. The keynote is co-sponsored by the American Constitution Society, and pizza and drinks will be provided.

Panelists will take as their departure Justice Brennan’s observation, in his dissenting opinion in McCleskey v. Kemp, that despite the “honorable steps” taken to “free ourselves from the burden” of America’s history of racial discrimination, we cannot pretend to have completely escaped the grip of that legacy and will “remain imprisoned by the past as long as we deny its influence in the present.” Panelists and attendees will assess from a variety of perspectives whether race continues to play a leading role in “the way in which we choose those who will die,” and what, if anything, can be done about it.

The complete Conference Program can be found on the Capital Punishment Center’s website.

Created in 2006 to increase the Law School’s academic focus on the issue, the Capital Punishment Center brings together scholars, students, and practitioners interested in the death penalty and its administration. Center faculty members teach the Capital Punishment Clinic, as well as courses on capital punishment, right to counsel and the death penalty, and an undergraduate honors course on the cultural life of the death penalty. Recent offerings have also included a course on mental health issues in capital litigation.

The conference is co-sponsored by the William Wayne Justice Center for Public Interest Law.

Related links:

The Capital Punishment Center

The Capital Punishment Clinic


Rob Owen, Co-Director of the Capital Punishment Center, School of Law, 512.232.9391,