LifeLines Autumn Conference - 5th October 2019
Human Rights Action Centre, New Inn Yard, London EC2 3EA Doors open 10.00 am; coffee, refreshments and State Groups from 10.30am. The conference starts at 11.15am and will finish at 4.30pm.
Whether you have been to lots of LifeLines conferences before, or are planning to attend your first, this event is not to be missed!We are delighted to welcome as our keynote morning speaker Damon Thibodeaux, formerly of Louisiana’s death row before his exoneration, and in the afternoon Claire Jenkins, co-chair of British legal charity Amicus, will tell us about its work. Both will be happy to answer questions.
spent fifteen years in solitary confinement, 23 hours a day, on death row at Louisiana’s Angola prison farm for the 1996 murder and rape of his 14-year-old cousin.
After 36 hours of sleep deprivation and a brutal nine-hour interrogation by police during which he was threatened with lethal injection if he did not confess, he admitted to the crime but then immediately recanted. He was sentenced to death despite no physical evidence linking him to the crime and blatant contradictions between his “confession” and the facts of the crime scene.
In an unusual joint investigation between District Attorney Paul Connick and defence attorneys, it was discovered that the victim had in fact not been raped, and the only DNA evidence left at the crime scene was not tied to Damon. The conviction was vacated and in 2012 Damon became a free man again. He was the 300th person to be exonerated from prison because of DNA, and the 18th from death row.
Damon initially found it hard to adjust to society, but has since continued his education and found work. An eloquent and experienced public speaker, he shares his story and campaigns against wrongful convictions, talking to audiences of religious groups, business leaders, lawyers, judges and even the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee.
is Co-Chair of Amicus, a British charity founded in 1992 by LifeLines’ member Jane Officer in memory of her first penfriend, Andrew Lee Jones, which helps provide representation for those facing the death penalty in the US.
Having always been interested in human rights’ issues, she was drawn to Amicus because of its focus on answering Andrew’s US appeal lawyer’s call on the night of Andrew’s execution in 1991 for the UK to “send us lawyers”. Since first volunteering in 1993 she has seen Amicus grow from a small charity to its position today where, every year, it sends at least 30 Amicus-trained interns to capital defence offices across the US, manages over 300 UK-based lawyers doing casework for US death penalty lawyers and trains over 400 lawyers and law students in US capital punishment law.
The relationship between LifeLines and Amicus remains as strong today as it was in 1992. LifeLines provides the essential emotional support and friendship which prisoners value so highly. Amicus provides crucial practical support to the over-worked and under-funded capital defence lawyers which prisoners need when fighting for justice.
Claire will discuss Amicus’ extended reach of activities, and will be joined by one of Amicus’ former UK interns who will share their personal experience of undertaking pro bono capital defence work in the US.The conference also provides an excellent opportunity to share experiences with fellow writers - or find out more if you are considering writing as there will be plenty of time to meet new friends and catch up with old ones. Those who already write will have the opportunity to meet others writing to their State. Conferences are open to everyone and friends and family of members are welcome. However, venue restrictions do not allow the admittance of those under 18, including babies.