Degradation Ceremonies: Constitutional and Statutory Limits of the Punishment After Punishment

Thursday, September 28, 2017 - 4:00pm
Amherst Room, 10th Floor Campus Center

In an era of mass incarceration, hundreds of thousands, disproportionately minority, are released from prison every year. They face staggering numbers of adverse legal consequences flowing from a criminal record, disabilities created by a punitive society that amount to a form of ostracism and loss of full citizenship. Efforts to end discrimination and reduce recidivism are common. What are the barriers to real reform and what can be done to overcome them? This presentation is part of the 13th Annual Dean Alfange Jr. Lecture Series in American Constitutionalism. Michael Meltsner, Matthews Distinguished University Professor of Law, Northeastern University School of Law, will present.

About Michael Meltsner

Michael Meltsner was first assistant counsel to the NAACP Legal Defense Fund in the 1960s and served as dean of the law school from 1979 until 1984. His memoir, The Making of a Civil Rights Lawyer, was published in 2006 (University of Virginia Press). Among his other writings are: Cruel and Unusual: The Supreme Court and Capital Punishment; Public Interest Advocacy; Reflections on Clinical Legal Education; and Short Takes, a novel. His most recent book, Rape, Race and Injustice tells the story of a group of law students sent secretly to the South during the 1960s to collect proof of discrimination. His 2011 play “In Our Name: A Play of the Torture Years” has been performed in New York and Boston to great acclaim. In 1977, Professor Meltsner, who is also a licensed marriage and family therapist, was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship. He has served as a consultant to the US Department of Justice, the Ford Foundation and the Legal Action Center and has lectured in Canada, Egypt, Germany, India,the Netherlands and South Africa. In 2000, he was named a fellow of the American Academy in Berlin and conducted research on German constitutional law. He returned to the School of Law in 2005 after five years as a visiting professor and director of the First-Year Lawyering Program at Harvard Law School. In 2010, he received the Hugo Bedau Award for excellence in death penalty scholarship. In 2012, he was awarded an honorary doctorate by John Jay College (CUNY) and described as the "principal architect of the death penalty abolition movement" in the United States. Professor Meltsner is currently teaching a seminar on constitutional litigation and a course on the law governing freedom of speech. He is a regular contributor to the press on a range of legal topics.