The Death Penalty Research Unit has three main aims:
(a) to develop empirical, theoretical and policy-relevant research on the death penalty worldwide;
(b) to encourage death penalty scholarship including at graduate level, through education, events, research dissemination and an active blog; and
(c) to engage in knowledge production, exchange and dissemination in cooperation with civil society, charities, legal practitioners, policy-makers and local academics in those countries where research is ongoing.
Part of the Oxford Centre’s Global Criminal Justice Hub, the DPRU focuses on the retention, administration and politics of the death penalty worldwide. We aim to understand the rationales for the death penalty, how it is used in practice, and its diverse application and impact on communities.
We are committed to working with our partners in various regions on collaborative production and dissemination of empirical and theoretical knowledge. This work is not only aimed at elucidating the law and practice of capital punishment worldwide, but at challenging it, with the explicit aim of abolition or, failing that, progressive restriction.
The DPRU is led by Professor Carolyn Hoyle. It builds on the strong foundations laid by the late Professor Roger Hood, Director of the Centre for Criminology from 1973 to 2003. Much of our work is done in partnership with The Death Penalty Project, a London-based legal action charity with many years of experience of litigation, capacity building and research.
The DPRU also collaborates with partner organisations and academics in the countries we work in; building on their research aspirations, training ‘local’ researchers in a range of research methodologies, and sharing in the production and dissemination of outputs. In so doing, we seek to ensure that our research has an impact on governments, civil society, legal practitioners and those who are subject to criminal justice systems, while also assisting in the development of scholarship in these regions.
ESRC research project on drug offences in Southeast Asia
In 2022, the DPRU began a new three-year project, funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC), titled 'Mapping the Political Economy of Drugs and the Death Penalty in Southeast Asia'. In connection with this research project, the DPRU will also be developing a new interactive database to map people on death row for drug offences across Asia and the Middle East.