Shared on behalf of Bonnie Bacarisse, a Mitigation Specialist at the Office of Capital and Forensic Writs, a statewide public defender office in Austin, Texas representing individuals sentenced to death in their post-conviction appeals.
First, a little about what our office does. All of our clients have already been sentenced to death. Our office investigates and raises constitutional challenges to our client’s conviction and/or death sentence. This often takes the form of a “mitigation” investigation and presentation, where we present evidence of our client’s life history which could have “mitigated” against a sentence of death. Mitigating evidence can be anything, but often this includes evidence related to poverty, systemic racism and oppression, abuse and trauma, intellectual disability, and/or other mental illness. Mitigation Specialists do not have to be lawyers. Mitigation Specialists conduct a multi-generational social-history investigation of our client and their family to uncover the story of our client’s lives—what shaped them, and what factors led them to become entangled in the criminal legal system.
We are seeking students, with any educational focus, to whom this work appeals and who are interested in making a difference in the lives of incarcerated people, to apply for an internship as a Mitigation Specialist in our office. A Mitigation Specialist intern would work as part of an inter-disciplinary team to help investigate, develop, and share our clients’ stories. Students pursuing the humanities, such as history, anthropology, or cultural/race/gender studies are often particularly interested in this work.