2307 Union St.
Houston, Texas 77007
The Gulf Region Advocacy Center
I was an intern from Reprieve Australia in the Winter of 2013-2014. Interning at GRACE has been an absolutely amazing
experience, and has provided me with some wonderful
opportunities. My first week I was able to participate in
GRACE’s Mitigation Boot Camp; a three day training
program that educates mitigators and attorneys on the
strategy and nuances of capital defense. The boot camp
was a complete immersion in the fascinating work, not only
of GRACE, but of other mitigators and attorneys across the
US. Lecturers flew in from around the country, and provided
theoretical and practical instruction as well as informative
anecdotes about their own wealth of experience in the field. One of the most poignant pieces of advice was Danalynn Recer explaining the importance of the theme of ‘love’ in a trial, both the client’s capacity to love and the extent to which the client is loved by others as the salient factor of juries choosing life over death.
I’ve also been lucky enough to get case experience, with a concentration on mitigation, as well as legal experience. The diverse range of responsibilities has allowed me to gain a greater understanding of the disparities that plague the death penalty system, while also evincing the subtle interplay between the law and mitigation.
As an intern at GRACE, I’ve had the opportunity to share a house with other GRACE interns, which has been fantastic. Living with other like-minded people has been a great bonding experience, and I’ve developed some great friendships that will last beyond the internship. The office is a similarly welcome place, with a dedicated and receptive staff. Everybody is incredibly generous with their time and knowledge, and go out of their way to ensure that you feel part of the GRACE community.
I strongly recommend an internship at GRACE, and consider it a privilege that I’ve been able to be part of such a kind, devoted group of people. I’ve learnt an enormous amount, and the experiences I’ve had are life-changing. I would like to thank everyone so much for their help and time, and for a great time in Houston!
I volunteered at GRACE in 2012. While there, I worked on the ‘Batson research project’ for Dallas County. The research made me really aware of the fact that racial inequality is, unfortunately, not an ancient history. On the contrary, this inequality is embedded in the Texan criminal justice system of today.
I also took part in the ‘Mitigation Boot camp’; a three day training program GRACE organizes biannually to raise the standards among mitigators in the United States. The Boot camp was very instructive, due to the focus on both theoretical knowledge and learning practical skills. In one of her lectures, for example, Danalynn Recer explained ‘love’ is probably the most important theme of the defense team in a capital case. The client’s capacity to love and the extent to which the client is loved by others, are the most important factors for a jury to choose life imprisonment instead of the death penalty.
As an intern at GRACE, you have the opportunity to share a house with other GRACE interns. Besides the hard work, there is enough time left to discover Houston and visit other interesting cities like Austin and San Antonio. All the people at GRACE make you feel very welcome. They are more than willing to share their own experiences – regarding both work and leisure – with interns to make sure you learn and see a lot during your stay. For example, I went to a pumpkin patch with a few colleagues to get in the mood for Halloween, which was really nice! I strongly recommend an internship at GRACE. I consider it a privilege, having been part of such a nice, dedicated group of people and having been able to learn so much from everyone in the office. I would like to thank everyone very much for the great summer in Houston. Keep up the good work GRACE does!
Kate Janse van Rensburg
I began interning at GRACE after completing my first year at the University of Houston Law Center in May, 2011. In three months, I learned more about legal practice and advocacy than I had in my entire first year of school. In the course of those three months, I wrote dozens of pleadings, attended hearings, and improved my legal writing and advocacy skills to a degree I had not thought possible. The entire experience was amazing--from the knowledge I gained to the people I worked with to the people I knew I was helping. I feel like I got far more out of my summer internship than most of my classmates working for "Big Law" firms did. I didn't spend my summer writing memos--I was thrown straight into active advocacy, and it was invaluable.
I knew before starting at GRACE that I wanted to work in human rights, but I was unsure of in what capacity. The amazing dedication, passion, hard work, and heart of the employees at GRACE solidified my decision, and I knew that capital defense was the area in which I could have the most impact on people's lives. I am still interning with GRACE, and hope to remain here once I have completed my J.D.
I was an intern from Reprieve UK between October 2010 and April 2011. I lived in the intern house with a bunch of other interns from the UK and Australia and really enjoyed my experience. The work varied from really interesting legal research and writing to in-depth client background investigation. I travelled within Texas working on cases and met with one of our clients on death row. I learnt a huge amount about the realities of this area of practice and the experience has given me invaluable skills that I hope to put to use back in England as a trainee-barrister. It was great to be part of a tight-knit office community who all pull together to do such important work.
Outside of work it was great to be able to hang out with the other interns and to meet the locals. I got to enjoy the beautiful Houston weather and the fantastic southern food and hospitality. If it wasn’t for law school to go back to I would have happily stayed for another 6 months and can’t recommend volunteering with GRACE strongly enough!
From November 2010 through to February 2011, I completed an internship at GRACE through Reprieve Australia.
Volunteering at GRACE offered the unique experience to work in a foreign country, to learn the intricacies of an unfamiliar legal system, and to acquire practical professional skills. My day-to-day role as an intern included extensive legal research, systematic file management, preparation of team documents and briefs, and thorough investigation.
The skills and knowledge I acquired from my time at GRACE were invaluable, and the people I had the opportunity to work with were an absolute inspiration. I formed strong friendships with my fellow interns as we shared the joys of small triumphs and successes, as well as our frustrations concerning the confines of an alarmingly diluted and skewed criminal justice system clutching capital punishment at its pinnacle.
The insights I gained from GRACE have not only influenced my perspectives on the law, but also the direction of my career. Working in such an environment was bound to present personal, professional, and emotional challenges, but the satisfaction of overcoming these challenges and persevering for a just cause was in itself a reward, and as such, inspired me to make certain I realize my aspirations to pursue a career in criminal law.
My internship experience was underscored by GRACE’s astounding, resilient commitment to justice and human life in the arduous struggle to reclaim integrity in law. My time at GRACE will forever remain a constant reminder of the value of equal justice before the law, and the worth of each and every human life. I developed great respect and appreciation for all those involved with GRACE, and indeed all those who are unreservedly continuing the fight against capital punishment. Being a part of that movement was extraordinarily rewarding, and exceptionally humbling.
Thank you, GRACE, for being the utmost inspiration.
I was an intern at GRACE from February 2003 to August 2003. Initially I was one of three interns working with Danalynn. During my time there I worked on a case based in Louisiana, undertaking post trial investigation. We worked as agents for a court appointed attorney, travelling throughout Louisiana and Texas to meet with witnesses, jurors, and the client's family members. This culminated in the filing of a state habeas petition shortly before the end of my internship. Since my internship I have continued to regularly meet with the interns that I shared this time with, and continue to support GRACE and Reprieve. I have qualified as a solicitor in England and Wales and currently practice family law.
I interned at GRACE in 2007 for three months, the experience was intense and invaluable. Seeing the daily struggle to save lives at GRACE was humbling, and I have an enormous amount of respect for the people who work on the front line of anti- death penalty campaign. Learning about some of the client's lives in great detail through record collection was deeply moving and the experience has helped me to decide to train as a social worker which I am now doing in London.