NEW RESOURCES: Human Rights and the Death Penalty

The Death Penalty Information Center (DPIC), with the support of the Foreign Office of the Federal Government of Germany, recently undertook a project examining the U.S. death penalty through a human rights lens. DPIC has added a series of human rights pages to its website, reframing three aspects of the death penalty – race, conditions of confinement, and executions – in light of human rights norms and treaties.

The page on U.S. executions highlights various human rights issues related to methods of execution, including lethal injection, and the international community’s response. The conditions of confinement page discusses ongoing practices that vary from the United Nations Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners, more commonly known as the “Nelson Mandela rules.” This includes human rights issues associated with prolonged solitary confinement—the death-row phenomenon—and the physical conditions of imprisonment. The page on race provides a historical and legal overview of concerns about racial bias within the U.S. death penalty, as well as specific examples of possible racial discrimination.

As part of this project, DPIC held a series of webinars and a panel at the German embassy in Washington, D.C., all of which were recorded and are available on the human rights pages. These events featured notable experts and provided an opportunity for members of the public, academia, and the international community to learn more about these human rights issues.