Eight New York University School of Law students completed a semester-long clinical program last week in which they provided legal assistance to people sentenced to death in Alabama.
The clinic brings students to Alabama to work with EJI on death penalty cases. The students spend weeks in Alabama learning about the death penalty system and meeting with condemned men and women to help with case investigation.
For more than 15 years, NYU students have helped to provide critically-needed legal assistance to people facing the death penalty in Alabama with no counsel.
Unlike every other state in the country that uses the death penalty, Alabama does not provide legal assistance to death row inmates to challenge the inadequate representation they received at trial or other aspects of their conviction or sentence in post-conviction proceedings. This creates a serious crisis, as dozens of people who have been sentenced to death in Alabama have no lawyers to help them challenge unconstitutional errors in their cases. Without legal assistance, inmates with no resources and no ability to investigate beyond the walls of their prison must somehow navigate the complex requirements of postconviction alone, which can prevent them from ever getting a court to review their claims.
The Equal Justice and Defender Clinic is part of EJI’s broader effort to educate individuals on the inequities present in the criminal justice system. Thousands of people have visited EJI for programs and presentations about our work and the need for reform of the criminal justice system. Staff speak at colleges, universities, churches, community groups, high schools, and conferences on issues of criminal justice reform and racial inequality.
EJI also produces reports, discussion guides, short films, and other materials to help community groups, churches, students, and others learn more about the issues we address. A full list of those resources can be found here and are available upon request by phone at 334.269.1803 or email at [email protected].