A version of Stephen B. Bright’s course “Capital Punishment: Race, Poverty, & Disadvantage” is now available online at no cost on a Yale site, YouTube and iTunesU. Bright, president and senior counsel at the Southern Center for Human Rights, has taught courses on capital punishment at Yale and other law schools since 1993, and has been representing people facing the death penalty since 1979. The course examines issues of race and poverty in the criminal justice system, particularly with regard to the imposition of the death penalty, and the imposition of the death penalty on the intellectually disabled and mentally ill.
Utilizing court decisions, transcripts, articles, interviews with people involved in the cases, and other materials, the course examines the legal and practical aspects of capital punishment, including the right to counsel for people who cannot afford lawyers; racial discrimination in decisions made by prosecutors, judges and jurors; judicial independence; jury selection; competency for trial and other issues involving mental health and intellectual functioning; and the evidence to be considered and the procedures employed in capital cases. The course is divided into 13 sessions. Each session features a series of videos and accompanying readings, plus supplementary links.