Wednesday, October 26, 2016

I am half way into my internship in New Orleans. No day has been the same and it has been immensely rewarding. I’ve assisted with a number of death penalty appeal cases and helped with a civil claim against the state regarding the conditions in Louisiana’s prisons.
Last month I was able to visit three clients at Angola, the largest maximum security prison in the United States known as “The Farm”. Angola is on an 18,000 acre property that was previously the Angola Plantations, and the farm is now worked by non death row inmates. Nothing could prepare me for the experience of visiting Angola for the first time, and it is something I will never forget.
I was nervous about meeting my first client, but as we starting talking I quickly became comfortable. I met a guy who was my age and was excited to meet someone from the UK. It was easy to forget that I was talking to someone on death row, as we chatted about music, politics and he recommended me places to visit in New Orleans. My second visit was to see a man who had recently won his appeal and received a new life sentence. What struck me was that he was somewhat struggling to adapt to living with other people, after 18 years living in solitary confinement on death row. He also suffered with trauma and mental illness, which is something I now appreciate to be a big factor in all of the office’s cases.
New Orleans itself has been a fantastic place to live. It has exceeded all of my expectations, with festivals almost every weekend and music and dancing filling the streets of the French Quarter. I have fallen in love with the city already and know I will hate to leave!