Intelligence Squared U.S. Debates The Death Penalty At NYC’s Kaufman Center On April 15 | Shore Fire Media

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16 March, 2015Print

Intelligence Squared U.S. Debates The Death Penalty At NYC’s Kaufman Center On April 15

Intelligence Squared U.S. Debates The Death Penalty At NYC's Kaufman Center On April 15

In over 100 debates so far, Intelligence Squared U.S. has tackled controversial public policy issues from gun control to Obamacare. But one of the most divisive has not yet been debated - until now. On Wednesday, April 15, Intelligence Squared U.S. will bring reasoned argument and analysis to an often-heated issue with a live debate on the motion "Abolish the Death Penalty."

A recent Gallup poll found that Americans are still largely supportive of the death penalty, with 6 in 10 in favor as punishment for murder. However, though legal in 32 states, it has come under renewed scrutiny in light of several botched executions in 2014. At the heart of the debate are many complicated questions. Is it possible to know every person’s guilt with a sufficient degree of certainty? Does the fear of death reduce crime? Are there race and class biases in sentencing? Are some crimes so heinous in nature that punishment by death is the only appropriate measure, or is capital punishment always immoral?

Arguing in favor of abolishing the death penalty are Barry Scheck, co-founder of the Innocence Project, and Diann Rust-Tierney of the National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty. Facing off against them are renowned death penalty advocate and New York School of Law Professor Robert Blecker and the Legal Director of the Criminal Justice Legal Foundation Kent Scheidegger.

Arguing for the motion:
* Diann Rust-Tierney: Executive Director, National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty
Diann Rust-Tierney became the executive director of the National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty in 2004. With thirty years of experience in public policy and litigation advocacy, she manages the operations of NCADP and directs programs for the organization and its 100 affiliate organizations seeking to change public policy on the death penalty. Previously, Rust-Tierney served as the director of the Capital Punishment Project at the American Civil Liberties Union, where she had also served as chief legislative counsel and associate director of the Washington office.

* Barry Scheck: Co-Director, Innocence Project, Cardozo School of Law
Barry Scheck is the co-founder and co-director, with Peter Neufeld, of the Innocence Project and a professor at the Cardozo School of Law. Known for landmark litigation that has set standards for forensic applications of DNA technology, he and Neufeld have shaped the course of case law nationwide, leading to an influential study by the National Academy of Sciences, as well as important state and federal legislation. In addition to the dozens of men exonerated through the Innocence Project, Scheck has represented such notable clients as Hedda Nussbaum, O. J. Simpson, Louise Woodward, and Abner Louima.

Arguing against the motion:
* Robert Blecker: Professor, New York School of Law

Robert Blecker is a professor at New York Law School, a nationally known expert on the death penalty, and the subject of the documentary Robert Blecker Wants Me Dead. The sole keynote speaker supporting the death penalty at major conferences and at the Association of the Bar of the City of New York, he was also the lone American advocate at an international conference in Geneva on the death penalty sponsored by Duke University Law School. Frequently appearing in The New York Times, on PBS, CourtTV, CNN, BBC World News, and other major media outlets, and with privileged access to death rows across the country, Blecker is making a documentary chronicling life on death rows and contrasting them with maximum security general population.

* Kent Scheidegger: Legal Director, Criminal Justice Legal Foundation
Kent Scheidegger has been the legal director of the Criminal Justice Legal Foundation since 1986. A nonprofit, public interest law organization, CJLF’s purpose is to assure that people who are guilty of committing crimes receive swift and certain punishment in an orderly and constitutional manner. Scheidegger has written over 150 briefs in the U.S. Supreme Court cases. His articles on criminal and constitutional law have been published in law reviews, national legal publications, and congressional reports, and his legal arguments have been cited in the Congressional Record and incorporated in several precedent-setting Supreme Court decisions.

The debate will also stream live online, then air soon after as part of the syndicated NPR show "Intelligence Squared U.S." On April 15, online viewers can tune in here ( or via IQ2's new app (

WHAT: Intelligence Squared U.S. Debates "Abolish the Death Penalty"
WHEN: Wednesday, April 15, 2015 / Reception 5:45-6:30 / Debate 6:45-8:15 PM
WHERE: Kaufman Center/129 W. 67th Street (bet. Broadway and Amsterdam)/New York, NY 10023
TICKETS: $40 ($12 for students w/ ID). To purchase, visit

A non-partisan, nonprofit organization, Intelligence Squared U.S. was founded in 2006 to restore civility, reasoned analysis and constructive public discourse to today’s often biased media landscape. IQ2US reaches millions through multi-platform distribution, including radio, television, live streaming, podcasts and interactive digital content. It is one of the top 25 most popular podcasts on iTunes, and has won the 2014 Clarion Award for Radio Regular Feature Program and back-to-back 2013-2014 New York Festivals International Radio Awards for Best Public Affairs Program. The debates have attracted some of the world's top thinkers, including Malcolm Gladwell, Steven Forbes, Dr. Neal Barnard, Arianna Huffington, Paul Krugman, and Karl Rove. With over 100 debates and counting, Intelligence Squared U.S. has encouraged the public to "think twice" on a wide range of provocative topics. Author and ABC News correspondent John Donvan has moderated IQ2US since 2008. The executive producer is Dana Wolfe.

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For more information on Intelligence Squared U.S., please contact Ray Padgett ( or Mark Satlof ( at Shore Fire Media.