Friday, September 30, 2016

This is my second internship with the Atlantic Center for Capital Representation ("ACCR") since I came over in 2012 as their first Amicus volunteer. Unlike other interns in Philadelphia, my work is mainly office-based because ACCR is a death penalty resource centre that supports capital defence practitioners. It is run by Marc Bookman and Dana Cook, an attorney and mitigation specialist respectively with many years' experience helping capital clients, whose relentless passion and commitment are inspirational.

Last Wednesday, a 22-year-old man was convicted by a jury in Philadelphia of first-degree murder in a 2014 shooting. His case had been prosecuted as capital so the jury was due to proceed to the penalty phase at which it would decide whether or not to impose the death penalty. The man was not a client of ACCR's despite its ongoing offers of assistance to his lawyer, and until Thursday had rejected an offer from the prosecution of life imprisonment in exchange for waiving certain appellate rights. reports that he was urged by his attorneys to take the deal to avoid possible execution. After conviction, his lawyer asked Marc Bookman to come to the courthouse on Thursday to speak to his client during which, the lawyer is reported to have said, Marc relayed in private discussions what life is like on death row.  

To me, the case perfectly sums up the ethos of ACCR: saving a person's life by supporting attorneys who need the expertise that Marc and Dana provide, ultimately helping give individuals facing the death penalty the best legal representation possible.

The last word should go to the victim's mother who said: "I was glad he didn't get the death penalty. It wasn't one of the things I wanted. Two wrongs don't make a right."