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The American Bar Association Death Penalty Representation Project was honored in Philadelphia last night at the Witness to Innocence 10th Anniversary Celebration for its work to “enact meaningful changes in our criminal justice system.”
For nearly three decades, the ABA Death Penalty Representation Project has worked to improve the quality and availability of legal representation for those charged with or convicted of capital crimes. The project seeks reform of systems both in the United States and around the world that provide legal representation to indigent defendants, and it educates the bar and public about the crisis of counsel in the death penalty system. The project also recruits, supports and trains capital defense lawyers and educates judges about the importance of an effective defense effort.
Founded in 2003 by exonerated death row survivors and their families, Witness to Innocence works to educate the public about wrongful convictions. The organization also provides an essential network of peer support for the exonerated, many of whom received no compensation or access to re-entry services when released from death row.
The ABA Death Penalty Representation Project was among eight awardees honored at the Witness to Innocence 10th Anniversary Celebration. Other recipients included Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., the European Commission and the Federal Community Defender Office’s Capital Habeas Unit of Philadelphia. Special guests included Sister Helen Prejean, author of “Dead Man Walking” and an internationally acclaimed human rights activist and Nobel Peace Prize nominee who helped to found Witness to Innocence, and Danny Glover, a well-known actor, producer and humanitarian and an advocate for economic justice and access to health care and education programs in the United States and Africa.