November 2, 2005: Stephen B. Bright
Bright is best known as Director of the Southern Center for Human Rights, based in Atlanta. This public interest legal project provides poor people who have been convicted of crimes or who are in prison with greater access to lawyers and more equal treatment in America's courts. The Center also provides legal representation to people facing the death penalty and to prisoners facing cruel and unconstitutional prison conditions.
As head of the Center since 1982, Bright has worked tirelessly to eliminate the inequality and racial discrimination that he sees poor people and minorities encounter in the judicial system. He believes that "The criminal justice system is the part of our society that [has] been the least effected by the civil rights movement."
Bright has also become one of the nation's most outspoken opponents of the death penalty, representing people facing the death penalty at trials and on appeals since 1979. In 1988, he argued the case of Amadeo v. Zant before the U.S. Supreme Court, in which the death sentence was set aside because of racial discrimination. He has testified before committees of Congress and at the state level in a number of southern states.