Ten law students from the University of Warwick are to travel to the US to provide legal representation on behalf of prisoners who have been sentenced to death.
Warwick’s Death Penalty Project, now in its 10th year, is an internship programme run by the institution’s Centre for Human Rights in Practice. It provides an opportunity for aspiring lawyers to work on some of the most prominent capital punishment cases in the US.
More than 100 people have signed up to the scheme annually over the past three years, and so far Warwick law students have been involved in 36 death penalty cases.
As well as sending students to the US, Warwick has about 120 volunteers who assist US capital defence attorneys remotely through research support work.
The institution’s law school has also hosted visits by Russell Stetler from the Office of the Federal Public Defender in Oakland, California, who coordinates federal death penalty projects that aim to ensure that those facing capital punishment receive effective legal representation.
Alice Panepinto, a research fellow at Warwick’s Centre for Human Rights in Practice, is coordinating the internship scheme for 2015-16. She hopes to expand the project over the coming years and to forge stronger links with partners in the US, she said.
“As well as being of benefit to the people who go on the internship placements, the US attorneys to whom we provide assistance tell us that the support they get from Warwick is invaluable in ensuring justice is present in their cases,” she said. “There’s a real lack of funding for capital defence lawyers in the States, so the project is crucial.”