More than a decade ago, The Advocates adopted a formal commitment to oppose the death penalty worldwide. In the United States, the capricious and arbitrary administration of the death penalty results in an enormous need for competent lawyers to assist death row inmates with their post-conviction appeals. The Advocates' Death Penalty Project was organized in 1991 to recruit Minnesota attorneys to respond to this need. The Project also provides education and advocacy on death penalty issues.
Education: Inspired by the words and acts of Justice Blackmun in denouncing the death penalty in 1994, The Advocates created the Justice Harry A. Blackmun Education Project. The project is a community-based initiative which seeks to educate school children, the public, the legal community and policy makers about the application of the death penalty in the United States. Blackmun Project activities have included: developing materials for teaching about the death penalty in schools; providing education and training for the legal community on death penalty issues; reporting on human rights concerns implicated in the administration of capital punishment; and developing public education materials on the death penalty.
Advocacy: The Death Penalty Project has helped defeat attempts to reintroduce capital punishment in Minnesota. The Death Penalty Project has also served as a resource to the local, national and international community on issues surrounding the death penalty.
Legal Representation: In the United States, there are hundreds of people on death rows facing the possibility of execution without legal representation. When the United States imposes the death penalty, it often operates capriciously and irresponsibly, frequently overlooking serious flaws in legal proceedings. The result is an enormous need for competent lawyers to assist death row inmates with their post-conviction appeals. In response to this enormous need, the Project recruited and trained more than 100 volunteer attorneys and paralegals to handle cases for death row inmates without legal representation. Project volunteers had a number of successes. Due to lack of funding sources for death penalty work, The Advocates has not taken any new cases of indigent death row inmates since 1996. Volunteers have continued to provide high-quality representation in more than twenty cases.
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