Stephen Bright’s Course on Capital Punishment Available Online

Harvey Karp Visiting Lecturer in Law Stephen B. Bright’s course “Capital Punishment: Race, Poverty, & Disadvantage” is now available here, as well as on iTunes U and YouTube. This course examines issues of poverty and race in the criminal justice system, particularly with regard to the imposition of the death penalty. Topics include the right to counsel for people who cannot afford lawyers, racial discrimination, prosecutorial discretion, judicial independence, and mental health issues.

View a preview of the course.

The course is made up of written materials that include many of the important Supreme Court decisions on capital punishment, lectures by Professor Bright, interviews with people involved in death penalty litigation and two former death row inmates, one of whom, John Thompson, was exonerated just before he was to be executed by Louisiana, and a discussion with students.

Stephen B. Bright has been a visiting lecturer in law at Yale Law School since 1993. He is also president and senior counsel at the Southern Center for Human Rights, a public interest law program that deals with human rights in the criminal justice and prison systems. He served as director of the Center from 1982 through 2005, and has been its president and senior counsel since 2006. He has represented people facing the death penalty before juries and state and federal appellate courts, including the United States Supreme Court, where he won reversals of two capital cases because of racial discrimination in jury selection. He has also litigated class action challenges to inadequate legal representation of poor people accused of crimes and to unconstitutional conditions and practices in prisons and jails.