Faculty Seminar Series: Professor John Bessler


March 1, 11:30-1:00
McDonough 109
Georgetown University Law Center
600 New Jersey Ave NW, Washington, DC 20001

Death Penalty

Traditionally, torture and executions have been viewed in separate legal silos. But in his new book, The Death Penalty as Torture, Prof. John Bessler argues that death sentences and executions are medieval relics that should be classified under the rubric of torture.  With “mock” or simulated executions, as well as a host of other non-lethal acts, already considered to be torturous, The Death Penalty as Torture calls for the recognition of a peremptory, international law norm against the death penalty’s use.

John Bessler teaches law at the University of Baltimore School of Law and at the Georgetown University Law Center.  He is the author of several books on capital punishment, including Cruel and Unusual: The American Death Penalty and the Founders’ Eighth Amendment (2012).  He is also the editor of Justice Stephen Breyer’s Against the Death Penalty (2016).  His prior book, The Birth of American Law: An Italian Philosopher and the American Revolution (2014) was the recipient of the Scribes Book Award, a national award given out since 1961 for “the best work of legal scholarship published during the previous year.”  He has a B.A. in political science from the University of Minnesota, a J.D. from Indiana University-Bloomington, an M.F.A. degree from Hamline University, and a master’s degree in international human rights law from Oxford University.