Ann Beeson, Executive Director of U.S. Programs for the Open Society Institute, wraps up the Rogers Human Rights Colloquium series, with her talk, "Aliens, Superkillers, and Terrorists: Reflections on the Strengths and Failures of Social Justice Movements."
Ann Beeson, a distinguished human rights advocate and litigator, joined the Open Society Institute in June 2007 as the director of U.S. Programs. She is working on the most acute challenges to open society in the United States, including race discrimination in the criminal justice system and immigration and national security policies that threaten human rights.
Prior to joining OSI, Beeson was associate legal director of the American Civil Liberties Union. At the ACLU, she spearheaded groundbreaking initiatives to stop the erosion of civil liberties in the name of national security and to expand the use of international human rights strategies in the areas of immigrants' rights, women's rights, and racial justice.
Beeson has argued twice before the U.S. Supreme Court. In August 2006, she won an important ruling on behalf of prominent journalists, scholars, and attorneys challenging the National Security Agency's illegal surveillance of Americans without a warrant.
In June 2007, Beeson was named one of the 50 most influential women lawyers in America by the National Law Journal, and was also featured as one of American Lawyer magazine's 50 rising legal stars under the age of 45. She has published essays in two books, Liberty Under Attack and The War on Our Freedoms.
Beeson graduated from Emory University School of Law, where she was editor-in-chief of the Emory Law Journal. She is a Texas native, and holds a master's degree in cultural anthropology from the University of Texas.
Execution of an offender sentenced to death after conviction by a court of law of a criminal offense. Capital punishment for murder, treason, arson, and rape was widely employed in ancient Greece, and the Romans also used it for a wide range of offenses. It also has been sanctioned at one time or another by most of the world's major religions. In 1794 the U.S. state of Pennsylvania became the first jurisdiction to restrict the death penalty to first-degree murder, and in 1846 Michigan abolished capital punishment for all murders and other common crimes. In 1863 Venezuela became the first country to abolish capital punishment for all crimes. Portugal was the first European country to abolish the death penalty (1867). By the mid-1960s some 25 countries had abolished the death penalty for murder. During the last third of the 20th century, the number of abolitionist countries increased more than threefold. Despite the movement toward abolition, many countries have retained capital punishment, and some have extended its scope. In the U.S., the federal government and roughly three-fourths of the states retain the death penalty, and death sentences are regularly carried out in China, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, and Iran. Supporters of the death penalty claim that life imprisonment is not an effective deterrent to criminal behaviour. Opponents maintain that the death penalty has never been an effective deterrent, that errors sometimes lead to the execution of innocent persons, and that capital punishment is imposed inequitably, mostly on the poor and on racial minorities.