From the Inside: A High School Senior’s View on the Inner Workings of the Innocence Project
By Adrienne Travis
Adrienne, a senior at
Scarsdale High School, will be interning with the Innocence Project for the next six weeks, during which she’ll also be an ongoing guest blogger.
A high school student with a dream to be a lawyer; I know—real original. Perhaps this would be more accurate: a high school student
on her dream to be a lawyer. Now, that sounds better.
When I found out that the last six weeks of my senior year of high school would be spent at an internship of my choice, I was ecstatic yet concerned. How would I choose the perfect internship to top off my high school career? I reflected on the classes I’d taken during the year and on what truly interested me. In both my criminal justice and constitutional law classes, the topic of wrongful convictions was studied in depth. Learning about the limitations and challenges convicted felons faced and seeing images and videos of the horrible prison conditions, I came to the conclusion that no innocent person should have to endure such pain and suffering for a crime they did not commit. In my criminal justice class we watched the documentary made on the Central Park Five, and it was then that I learned about the Innocence Project. The name of the organization stuck with me.
Coming into work at the Innocence Project on my first day, I did not know what to expect. Sure, I had been given a brief job description, but I did not really know what I would gain from this experience. I was shocked to find everyone here calm and collected, considering the topic that they deal with on a day to day basis.
I learned quickly that there are many different departments at the Innocence Project that work together to allow for an organized and systematic process. My original goals were broad: get a scope into the legal system and learn how the Innocence Project exonerates people. I do expect to achieve both of these goals, but after my introduction on the first day, I am positive I will gain even more from my experience.
Even after only being here a short time, it is clear that everyone who works here is passionate and driven in their careers and wants to do more than just exonerate people. They also want to spread the word about the problems of our flawed legal system, and create solutions to fix those problems.
I like to think of myself as having that same passion and drive. I want to pursue a career in law. My first peek into the legal system began with my dad who is a labor and employment lawyer. From a young age, I was curious about his work; skimming Black’s Law Dictionary was an enjoyable activity for me. As I grew older, my passion for the legal system continued to grow right along with me. The summer after my freshman year in high school I took a mock trial course at Yale University and from that point on I was hooked. I always viewed criminal law as too indefinite and general for my liking, but I feel that the Innocence Project will change that for me.
The Innocence Project is so interesting because behind all these cases is so much emotion. The exonerees and clients have been convicted, already been through court, and started or finished their prison sentences. The job of the Innocence Project is to then prove these people innocent. DNA testing is the primary form of evidence that the Innocence Project uses for their exonerations. How this testing is used specifically, well, that is something I still have more to learn about, but I’ll keep you posted.
These six weeks will definitely be an eye opening experience for me and I am looking forward to keeping you all updated every step of the way. Until next time.
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