• Journal of Public Law and Policy Symposia

    Spring 2015 Symposium: The Death Penalty Debate in America: Effectiveness, Fairness, Constitutionality, and Other Considerations

    Jennifer Nepstad, Symposium Editor, jnepstad01@hamline.edu

     

    About the Symposium

    The Journal of Public Law and Policy at Hamline University School of Law in Saint Paul, Minnesota, will host a symposium on Friday, March 27, 2015, tentatively entitled, "The Death Penalty Debate in America: Effectiveness, Fairness, Constitutionality, and Other Considerations." This symposium will gather scholars, policy makers, activists, and community members to discuss capital punishment in America both at the state and federal level.  Some of the central issues to be addressed at the symposium include the constitutional ban against cruel and unusual punishments; the death penalty's deterrent effect; whether the death penalty is fairly administered; how the death penalty compares financially to alternative forms of punishment; executing individuals despite doubts of guilt; crime in Minnesota before and after abolishing the death penalty; and the future of the death penalty in America.  


    Importance of Topic

    The death penalty has deep roots in the United States.  In 32 states, it still serves as the ultimate penalty for criminals who have committed the most heinous of crimes.  Minnesota abolished the death penalty in 1911, choosing to no longer equate justice with death.  Declining public support for capital punishment in recent years, coupled with several botched executions by lethal injection, has brought the death penalty debate to the forefront of both scholarly and popular discussion.  Through a well-balanced symposium, we seek to explore whether Minnesota is on the appropriate side of the death penalty debate, and whether the death penalty's roots will remain firmly planted in this country. 

    Academic institutions are considered to be the marketplaces of ideas, and in that role, they serve as places of conversation and debate.  We believe it is the duty of academic institutions like Hamline University School of Law to host these scholarly conversations and encourage dialogue about important topics such as capital punishment. 

     

    Speakers & Panelists

    •  Professor John Bessler, University of Baltimore School of Law
    •  John Malcolm, Director, Ed Gilbertson and Sherry Lindberg Gilbertson Senior Legal Fellow, Edwin Meese III Center for Legal and Judicial Studies, The Heritage Foundation 
    •  Julie Jonas, Adjunct Professor at Hamline University School of Law and University of Minnesota Law School, Managing Attorney at Innocence Project of Minnesota
    More Speakers to be announced

    Past Symposia Topics

    Other past JPLP symposia have explored similar critical issues.