October 31, 2023

The Death Penalty in America

Join the European Law Institute Fundamental Rights Law Special Interest Group and the American Constitution Society for a discussion of the death penalty in the United States.

Throughout the world, the death penalty is in decline. Since 1976, more than 75 countries have abolished the death penalty, with many others abolishing it in practice if not in law. While this trend is reflected in the U.S., with more states choosing to abolish the death penalty and fewer executions year over year, there are corners of the country in which the death penalty persists and support runs strong.

Beyond making it an outlier among its democratic peers in the international community, death penalty regimes in the U.S. present serious human rights issues, including marked racial disparities, arbitrary application, inhumane conditions of confinement, torturous executions methods, and the ever-present threat of imminent execution itself.

How might these realities advance the growing movement to abolish the death penalty throughout the United States? What role can international allies play in supporting these efforts?


John Bessler, Professor of Law, University of Baltimore School of Law

Professor María-Teresa Gil-Bazo, PhD, Faculty of Law, University of Navarra (Spain); Co-Chair, European Law Institute Fundamental Rights Group

Alexis Hoag- Fordjour, Dean’s Research Scholar, Assistant Professor of Law, and Co-Director of the Center for Criminal Justice, Brooklyn Law School

Boštjan Zalar, Senior High Court Judge, Administrative Court of the Republic of Slovenia, President of the European Chapter of the International Association of Refugee and Migration Judges (IARMJ-Europe); Co-Chair, European Law Institute Fundamental Rights Group

Moderated By:

Russ Feingold, President, American Constitution Society