Human rights advocate Stephen B. Bright to speak at The U

VERMILLION, S.D. -- What does the death penalty tell us about society? Stephen B. Bright, president and senior counsel of the Southern Center for Human Rights, will address that question and other human rights issues when he speaks to students at The University of South Dakota on Thursday, April 10.

As part of the W.O. Farber Center for Civic Leadership, Bright, a professor at the Yale University School of Law, will present the program, "The Death Penalty and the Criminal Justice System: What Do They Tell Us About the Society We Have and Want?" at 4 p.m. in Farber Hall.

Bright, who was director of the Southern Center for Human Rights from 1982 to 2005, has represented people facing the death penalty at trials and on appeals both at the state and federal levels. For more than 20 years, his work at the Center has included class action lawsuits brought on behalf of prisoners to remedy inhumane conditions and practices in prisons and jails; challenging the imprisonment of the poor for their inability to pay fines; and challenging inadequate representation often provided to poor people accused of crimes. Prior to joining the Southern Center for Human Rights, Bright was a legal services lawyer in the coal fields of Appalachia and a public defender in Washington, D.C.

In addition to his work with the Southern Center for Human Rights, Bright has taught at Yale, Harvard, Georgetown, Chicago, Emory and other university law schools of. An author of several essays and articles on a variety of racial discrimination within the criminal justice system and judicial independence topics, Bright’s published works have appeared in scholarly publications, books, magazines and newspapers. In 1998, he received the American Bar Association’s Thurgood Marshall Award.

"This is an extraordinary opportunity for our students and the USD community to hear how Stephen Bright is fighting for human rights that go beyond just a sentencing or trial by jury," noted William D. Richardson, Ph.D., professor and chairperson of the department of political science and director of the W.O. Farber Center for Civic Leadership. "This is definitely a topic that will pique the listener’s interest."

For more information about this event, which is free and open to the public, or the W.O. Farber Center for Civic Leadership, please contact the Farber Center at (605) 677-5702 or via e-mail at Farber.Center@usd.edu. A photo of Bright is available for download at www.usd.edu/urelations/images/Stephen_Bright.jpg.