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DUPS Amicus - What do we do?

An Introduction to Amicus

Amicus are a legal charity who help provide representation to those facing the death penalty in the US. Their work is based on the belief that the death penalty is disproportionately imposed on the most vulnerable in society, violating their right to due process and equal justice before the law.

Amicus are not a campaigning organisation and instead believe that the greatest difference can be made through frontline work.

History of Amicus

Amicus began with the case of Andrew Lee Jones in 1991 who was the last person to be executed in Louisiana’s electric chair. During his time on death row Andrew wrote to a retired teacher from Birmingham, Jane, through the organisation Lifelines for over 15 months. Following these communications Jane travelled to the US for Andrew’s trial and was appalled by the racism in the court, the lack of evidence and institutional disregard for fair procedure. After his execution Jane returned to the UK and raised money for the Andrew Lee Jones Fund which initially covered three attorneys through their final year of law school with the promise to work for a year on death penalty cases...

…these lawyers are still working as capital attorneys.

The Andrew Lee Jones fund then rebranded as Amicus and continue to challenge very much the same issues as faced by Andrew in 1991 by seeking to secure justice for all.

The Death Penalty Now

31 states in the US still have the death penalty.

Perhaps even more shocking within this statistic is that whether you face the death penalty or not can be solely an issue of boundary as 50% of death sentences come from just 2% of countries in the US.

One distinct difference between the UK and US that should be noted here is the operation of the politicised court system as there is significant electoral pressure to take a ‘tough’ stance against crime. Moreover race is often an obstacle to justice as African Americans make up 43% of the death row population despite only comprising 13% of the general population.

These are only two of the myriad of issues with the death penalty in the US that go to highlight the clear importance and frankly, simple need, for the work of Amicus.

What do we do?

As a student branch of Amicus our main objectives are to raise awareness of the discrepancies in the application of the death penalty and fundraise so as to fund lawyers to undertake the much needed frontline work.

This blog series will seek to identify and raise awareness of both the entrenched, institutional challenges of the death penalty and also current developments alongside an exploration of Amicus’ role within this.

We hope that this will prove insightful - keep up to date with our latest events on Facebook @dupsamicus

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