On October 2, Harvard Law School Professor Carol Steiker ’86 was presented with the Hugo A. Bedau Award by Massachusetts Citizens Against the Death Penalty for her contributions to death penalty scholarship.
“I’m honored to receive the Hugo Adam Bedau award from Massachusetts Citizens Against the Death Penalty, the nation’s oldest abolitionist organization,” Steiker said. “The work of Professor Bedau has rightly inspired an award in his name, for his work has taught us about the importance of studying capital punishment not only for its own sake, but also as a barometer for so many of the things that any society should hold dear — the protection of human dignity, the requirement of equal treatment under law, and necessary limits of the punitive power of the state.”
The award is named in honor of Hugo Bedau, the Austin B. Fletcher Professor of Philosophy, Emeritus at Tufts University. Well-known for his work on capital punishment, Bedau was also an outspoken expert on the topic, frequently testifying before Congress and state legislatures on the issue.
A premier expert on criminal law and capital punishment, Steiker is a co-author of “Criminal Law and Its Processes: Cases and Materials,” which is currently in its 8th edition. She is the editor of “Criminal Procedure Stories” and serves on the board of editors of the Encyclopedia of Crime and Justice. Recent topics of Steiker’s publications appearing in legal journals include the relationship of criminal justice scholarship to law reform, the role of mercy in the institutions of criminal justice, and the likelihood of nationwide abolition of capital punishment.
In addition to her scholarly work, Steiker has worked on numerous pro bono litigation projects on behalf of indigent criminal defendants. She has also served as a consultant and an expert witness on issues of criminal justice for non-profit organizations and has testified before Congress and the Massachusetts legislature. Last year, she argued a case before the Supreme Court and won, overturning a Texas death sentence.
Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley was given the Herbert and Sarah Ehrmann Award, which is named for early Boston civic leaders and death penalty opponents, at the ceremony.