CPRI Background & Advisory Board

The CPRI is an outgrowth of the commitment to graduate and undergraduate training and scholarship of James Acker and Charles Lanier at the School of Criminal Justice , University at Albany . Dr. William Bowers of Northeastern University has more recently become a principal contributor to the efforts of the CPRI. At the core of the CPRI's early development are two major publishing commitments undertaken by Acker and Lanier: (1) a series of 12 articles in the Criminal Law Bulletin (1993-2000) that review and analyze the nature and contours of death penalty law as it has developed on a state by state basis since the U.S Supreme Court authorized a return to capital punishment in 1976, and (2) (with Professor Robert Bohm of the University of Central Florida) an edited volume entitled America's Experiment With Capital Punishment: Reflections on the Past, Present, and Future of the Ultimate Penal Sanction (Durham, NC: Carolina Academic Press; 1998 & 2003) containing 23 chapters on topics of research and policy relevance authored by the nation's leading experts in these fields. This book is recognized as a foremost source of expertise in these areas, and is used as a text for advanced graduate training on capital punishment.

Since its inception in the late 1990s, more than 50 graduate and undergraduate students have been involved with CPRI support activities and research projects. Starting in 1999, four doctoral dissertations focusing on the death penalty have been competed at the School. Five doctoral students currently are in various stages of completion of their dissertation research involving the death penalty. The degree of interest in this topic at the School of Criminal Justice is significant, and helps explain why the CPRI is well poised to engage in extensive study of the ultimate sanction, and to undertake the archival and related projects discussed below.

Housed at the Hindelang Criminal Justice Research Center, School of Criminal Justice , University at Albany , the CPRI is directed by James R. Acker and Charles S. Lanier, and guided by an Advisory Board comprised of leading death penalty scholars and researchers. Board members include Hugo Adam Bedau, Tufts University (Emeritus); William J. Bowers, Northeastern University; Richard Dieter, Executive Director, Death Penalty Information Center; Michael E. Radelet, University of Colorado at Boulder, and Margaret Vandiver, The University of Memphis. The board members are donating their extensive work on capital punishment over the past half-century to the National Death Penalty Archive, and plan to solicit similar contributions from other leading figures in death penalty research and scholarship from around the nation. Jody Lynee Madeira, Climenko Fellow and Lecturer on Law, Harvard Law School, is a Research Associate at the CPRI, and currently is working on a study of families in capital murder cases.

The CPRI has several archival and research projects of national scope underway, and others in the planning stage. The projects presently underway include: (1) the National Death Penalty Archive; (2) the Abolitionist Oral History Project (AOHP); (3) several stages of the Capital Jury Project (CJP1-3); and (4) Clemency Petitions as a Key to Wrongful Executions. These projects all involve collaboration with scholars from other universities. Two additional scholarly research efforts, involving personnel at both the School of Criminal Justice in Albany and other universities, are under development: (5) a Study of the Conditions of Incarceration on State and Federal Death Rows, and (6) research on the Role of Punishment for Surviving Family Members of Murder Victims. These activities are described in greater detail here.