Ten law students from the University of Warwick are helping to provide legal representation for death row inmates in the USA as part of a summer internship.
‘Warwick’s Death Penalty Project’ internship, run by the Centre for Human Rights in Practice, has been running for a decade. It aims to offer students the chance to work with some of the most prominent capital penalty defence lawyers in the country.
Of the 50 states that make up the country, the death penalty is still legal in 31. States such as Texas, Oklahoma, Florida, Missouri, Ohio, Virginia, Georgia, and Arizona execute convicted murderers with relative frequency.
The USA is one of only 56 countries that have not yet abolished the death penalty.
There has been recent controversy within the system, with many death row prisons allegedly struggling to acquire the drugs needed to form the lethal injection method of execution that most US states use.
The drugs are made in Europe, but many European companies allegedly refused to give supplies to the USA when it is know they will be used for the lethal injection.
Amnesty International has run a campaign for many years to abolish the death penalty worldwide, but especially in the US.
“Irreversible denial of human rights”
Amnesty state on their website: “The death penalty is the ultimate, irreversible denial of human rights.
“By working towards the abolition of the death penalty worldwide, Amnesty International aims to end the cycle of violence created by a system riddled with economic and racial bias and tainted by human error.”
“Amnesty International campaigns to abolish the death penalty in the USA by focusing on individual cases of injustice, supporting work for death penalty repeal efforts in the states, and educating campuses and communities about the fatally flawed nature of our capital punishment system.”
Becky Duffell has spent the summer with Warwick’s Death Penalty Project, working in Little Rock, Arkansas. She commented: “The work we have been doing with the office has felt incredibly rewarding and important; the gratitude from the lawyers and clients is immense.”
Becky also says her work with the group has reinforced her negative feelings toward the death penalty: “Through coming into contact with the people here and seeing just how hard the public defenders work to help every client in every way possible every single day, my view that the death penalty is unfair and unjust in its enforcement and criterium have been dramatically reinforced and confirmed.”
“Capital punishment it is not of benefit to the families of the victims, as their pain and grieving is dragged out through endless appeals and media coverage, these endless appeals and their subsequent court costs lead to millions being spent on the system every year, and for what?”