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Last modified: Friday, November 16, 2012

IU Bloomington ‘Themester’ lecture on race and poverty features advocate for social justice

Nov. 16, 2012

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- Stephen Bright, a nationally prominent opponent of the death penalty and advocate for poor people accused of crimes, will speak at Indiana University Bloomington as part of the College of Arts and Sciences' Themester 2012 "Good Behavior, Bad Behavior: Molecules to Morality."

Bright will speak at noon Wednesday, Nov. 28, in the Moot Court Room of the IU Maurer School of Law, 211 S. Indiana Ave. His topic: "Race and Poverty in the American Criminal Justice System."

Stephen Bright

Stephen Bright

Print-Quality Photo

Known as an engaging speaker, Bright is president and senior counsel of the Southern Center on Human Rights in Atlanta. He was director of the center from 1982 through 2005 and has been in his present position since 2006. He also teaches at Yale Law School and the University of Georgia School of Law.

The Southern Center on Human Rights provides legal representation to people facing the death penalty, challenges human rights violations in prisons and jails, seeks to improve legal representation for poor people accused of crimes and advocates for criminal justice system reforms.

Bright has tried cases, including death-penalty cases, before juries and in federal and state appellate courts. He has twice won cases before the U.S. Supreme Court -- Snyder v. Louisiana and Amadeo v. Zant, both of which involved racial discrimination in jury selection. He has testified many times before committees of the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives.

His and the center's work has been the subject of a documentary film, "Fighting for Life in the Death Belt," and two books, "Proximity to Death" by William McFeely and "Finding Life on Death Row" by Katya Lezin. Bright has received numerous awards, including the American Bar Association's Thurgood Marshall Award and the American Civil Liberties Union's Roger Baldwin Medal of Liberty.

Bright's lecture at IU Bloomington is sponsored by the College of Arts and Sciences, the departments of criminal justice and political science, the Maurer School of Law, the Political and Civic Engagement program and the School of Environmental and Public Affairs.

Each year, Themester at IU Bloomington invites faculty and undergraduate students to explore an idea across the disciplines. This year's theme encompasses moral philosophy, behavioral biology, social sciences, mathematics, and literary and dramatic arts in more than 40 courses and an array of public events.