The Montana Innocence Project

On day one of my internship at the Montana Innocence Project my supervisor asked to meet at the picnic tables outside of the Alexander Blewett III law school to review my summer assignments. I was eager to help, even though I was unsure what I would be helping with… or where the picnic tables outside the law school were at. With one hand on the handlebars and one wrestling with an americano I rolled my bike to a stop in front of my supervisor, sat down, and by the meetings end I had compiled a list of assignments in my notebook. Now, as I cross the last of those assignments from my notebook in my final week at MTIP, I have a lot to smile about and little to forget. My global theme is “inequality and human rights” and I worked with the development and communications associate at the MTIP, whose mission is to exonerate the innocent and prevent wrongful convictions. During this experience, I have made incredible connections with impressive people, and I have learned a ton including: how to better synthesize expert jargon to write a story that connects with people, how to better research on the internet using tools like google alerts, how to create engaging social media posts and I have learned the difference between journalism and writing as part of an organization’s communications team. But the most impactful and all-encompassing realization that this internship has provided me is that “justice” in our criminal legal system is more subjective than I previously had thought. And the work MTIP is doing is admirable and very closely aligned with my idea of “justice.” It has spurred me to consider law school more seriously. And it has made me more aware of the criminal legal system’s often unknown or misunderstood obstacles that are placed before somebody charged with a crime in the US. I chose this beyond the classroom experience because to entertain my own interests and to explore my global theme of “inequality and human rights” and it did just that. As I wrote in the article I have linked on the picture below: Benjamin Franklin once wrote, “It is better 100 guilty persons should escape than that one innocent person should suffer.” But to MTIP legal director Caiti Carpenter, “That’s not how the system works. We are a system of efficiency, more often than not.”

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