March 21, 2017

Criminal justice scholar Paul Kaplan will present the lecture “‘He Never Had a Chance’: Capital Defendants in Contexts of Racist Fear” on March 30, sponsored by the Arlin M. Adams Center for Law and Society at Susquehanna University. Kaplan will discuss the use of the death penalty in the southern United States. The presentation, which begins at 7 p.m. in Faylor Hall, in Fisher Hall, is free and open to the public.

Although in many senses capital punishment is withering in America, the use of the death penalty survives unabated in small pockets of the country, especially the collection of southern states that comprise the Bible Belt. A key factor driving death penalty activity in these communities is entrenched white fear of dangerous black and brown “outsiders.”

In his talk, Kaplan will discuss how capital mitigation-a sensibility that sees capital defendants as damaged human beings rather than terrifying monsters-offers an alternative to hegemonic narratives that sustain high rates of execution in parts of the American South.

Kaplan is an associate professor of criminal justice in the School of Public Affairs at San Diego State University. Prior to entering academics, he worked as a mitigation investigator on capital cases in California. His work has appeared in journals such as the Law & Society Review, Theoretical Criminology and Law & Social Inquiry. Kaplan is also the coordinator of the Master of Criminal Justice and Criminology (MCJC) Program at San Diego State.

Susquehanna University’s Adams Center helps students explore issues at the intersection of the law and society, bringing to campus well-regarded legal scholars who examine the criminal justice system and other related matters. Students named as Adams Center Scholars do independent research projects, present at regional and national conferences, do internships and have opportunities to network with law schools, medical centers, businesses, courts and social service agencies.