LU Center for Death Penalty Studies to host first international conference

On Tuesday, April 12, the LU Center for Death Penalty Studies will host its first international conference that embodies this year’s theme: “The Future of the Death Penalty.”

“Texas has the highest rate of executions and death penalty rates compared to other states. Our center here at LU is to educate our students and others on the death penalty and whether it is an effective punishment or not,” said Dr. Sanaz Alasti, associate professor of criminal justice and director of the Center for Death Penalty Studies at Lamar University.

The Center for Death Penalty Studies, based within the LU Criminal Justice Department, was founded in 2013 by Dr. Alasti and Dr. Eric Bronson, director of Strategic Planning and Development. Since its establishment, the center has worked on a wide range of projects around the world and the 2022 Center for Death Penalty Studies Annual Conference will bring together politicians, activists, lawyers, researchers and communities to focus on death penalty research and cases.

“This conference will be the first annual meeting of the center and it’s going to happen here at Lamar University,” Alasti said. “This conference is not one-sided –– we are not working to persuade anyone one way or the other. We are considering both sides ––  whether to retain this punishment in the criminal justice system or to abolish it –– and we want to spark conversation among our attendees.”

The keynote speaker for this year’s conference is Franklin Zimring, professor and pioneer in the field of death penalty studies at University of California, Berkeley, School of Law.

“We were able to bring in famous criminologist Franklin Zimring and in addition to our keynote speaker, we also will have a series of great speakers across the board –– some will come from Europe and some from other states to attend the conference. Each of our speakers will talk about the death penalty and share their experience of using this punishment in their country or state. At the end of this conference, we hope that when our participants leave, they feel like, ‘ok, this punish is necessary for the society,’ or, ‘no, this punishment is not necessary.”

The conference, which is free and open to the public, will be hosted on Tuesday, April 12 at 10 a.m. on the 8th floor of the Mary and John Gray Library

About the keynote speaker:

franklin-zimring-uc-berkeleyFranklin Zimring was a member of the University of Chicago law faculty as Llewellyn Professor of Law and director of the Center for Studies in Criminal Justice. He joined the Berkeley Law faculty in 1985 as director of the Earl Warren Legal Institute. He was appointed the first Wolfen Distinguished Scholar in 2006 and served in that capacity until 2013.

Zimring is best known for his studies of the determinants of the death rate from violent attacks; the impact of pretrial diversion from the criminal justice system; and the effects of criminal sanctions.

He has been a visiting professor at the University of Pennsylvania and Yale University, and a fellow of the Center for Advanced Studies in Behavioral Sciences. He is a fellow of the American Society of Criminology and a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. From 2005 until 2011, he was the principal investigator for the Center on Culture, Immigration and Youth Violence Prevention supported by the Centers for Disease Control.

Zimring is the author and co-author of many books on topics including deterrence, the changing legal world of adolescence, capital punishment, the scale of imprisonment and drug control. Recent books include “The Contradictions of American Capital Punishment,” “The Great American Crime Decline” and “The City That Became Safe: New York’s Lessons for Urban Crime and Its Control.”