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Death row prisoners’ lives are in student’s hands

PUBLISHED: 16:03 02 July 2008 | UPDATED: 11:42 12 August 2010

NERVOUS: Faye Lawson to work in USA's penal systemalong with killers and rapists.

NERVOUS: Faye Lawson to work in USA's penal systemalong with killers and rapists.

A LAW student is due to travel to the United States to help defend some of America s most dangerous criminals from their execution on death row.

A LAW student is due to travel to the United States to help defend some of America's most dangerous criminals from their execution on death row.

Warwick University student, Faye Lawson, 20, of Plaistow Lane, Bromley, will fly to Oakland, California this Monday with 10 other course mates.

She will work for two months in a state-based Death Penalty Defence Office where she will manage prisoners' cases, interview witnesses and carry out legal research.

The second-year student said: "I'm feeling nervous and excited about it because of the nature of the work but I'm looking forward to experiencing another legal system so different from our own in depth."

Miss Lawson, who has visited the USA on several occasions, said even though she will be defending murderers and rapists she believes everyone is entitled to fair representation.

She said: "I feel passionately about the right to justice and a right to a fair trial. The system in America is massively under funded.

"I have always been interested in how society works and law is a massive part of that."

Dr Andrew Williams who runs the scheme at Warwick University School of Law said: "They are treated as important members of the team, they're certainly not just making the tea and doing the filing.

"Often the hardest part for students is establishing relationships with clients who have committed the most terrible crimes.

"They must get used to the fact they are working with murderers and still engage with the process of defending their clients against being put to death."

Attorney, Tyson Daniel, said: "The Warwick interns have been extremely valuable to us and have helped ensure that justice has been present in our cases."

Some 36 out of 50 US states use the death penalty and since 1976, 1,105 people have been executed, with just 11 of them women.

Executions peaked in 1999 with a total of 98 and since 1973, 120 people have been released following evidence of their innocence.

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