It’s the time of year when we all look back and take a deep breath, reflecting on what has occurred and wondering what the next year will bring. In many ways, it’s not such a bad thing to see 2009 drawing to a close. We’ve all experienced months of economic uncertainty and anxiety, and some of us have had to deal with real loss and hardship. The year 2010 may bring more of the same, but recovery and better times cannot be far off. Optimism in the midst of overwhelming misfortune is also what it takes to handle a death penalty case, and I have seen enough miracles in our work to sustain us through the worst this economy can dole out.
My reason for optimism is you. All of you who have financially supported us, attended our programs, and volunteered your time and skills. We know that we are more than four people at the Death Penalty Representation Project ‒ we are part of a community that extends coast to coast, with people who feel like we do about justice and who have always found a way to support us. Our budget has been cut but fortunately that is all: our Project remains alive and well and so does our passion for our work. We don’t have the luxury of giving up. There are too many people on Death Row counting on us. My confidence does not blind me to economic realities: I realize this is a difficult time to ask for your financial support. But I must ask because we have to find a way to continue our work for the poorest and most vulnerable in our society. Years from now when the economy has recovered, you will not remember what number the Dow reached in 2009. But you will remember the work you did with us and for someone on Death Row.
I hope you will take time to read about the work you have made possible this past year. Your financial contribution means we will be able to continue fighting for reform of counsel systems, working for meaningful changes in the death penalty system, and recruiting talented volunteer lawyers who will do what no one else has done: provide a condemned prisoner with his first and only chance for justice. All of us at the Project thank you for inspiring us and sustaining us. We look forward to working with you in the year ahead.
Robin M. Maher