A MONMOUTH woman has completed a 178-mile cycle ride to assist individuals facing the death penalty in the United States.
Lucie Boase, 27, who grew up in Monmouth and now works in Bristol as a paralegal, set off on 2nd May to New Orleans, Louisiana, to take up a three-month voluntary position providing legal assistance for prisoners who could otherwise not afford it.
The trip comes after she completed Hadrian’s Cycleway, a National Cycle Network route which follows the course of Hadrian’s Wall from Ravenglass on the west coast to South Shields on the east coast in just four days, averaging 45 miles a day. She has so far raised nearly £900 of her £1,000 target.
“I’ve always loved cycling but I’ve never done anything as arduous as this before – at the moment I just do my daily four-mile commute”, says Lucie.
“I wanted to raise some awareness about what I was going out to New Orleans to do and thought that this represented a fitting challenge, both in terms of my own ability but also because of the symbolism of walls themselves, creating barriers and division.
“I’m excited by the prospect of using my skills as a lawyer to provide representation to individuals who face the death penalty in Louisiana – in a small way, helping to break down some of the walls which confine us.”
Amicus, the UK-based charity which arranges work placements for law graduates in the United States, was founded in 1992 in memory of Andrew Lee Jones who was executed by the state of Louisiana, dubbed the ‘world’s prison capital’. An internship with the charity was an unequivocal choice for Lucie:
“I oppose the death penalty and believe it plays no part in a progressive society. It’s been proven that it is disproportionately imposed on the most vulnerable in society, violating their right to due process and the concept of equal justice before the law.
“The significant problem in the US is that there is no minimum level of experience required to defend a capital trial, leading to inexperienced lawyers and poor representation.
“The quality of legal representation in a capital trial can therefore mean the difference between life and death.
“Amicus, a tiny organisation with limited funds, works not through campaigning but through active involvement in frontline work, sending legally-qualified interns like me to support lawyers working in the US.”
Lucie will spend her time in New Orleans supporting public defenders: lawyers appointed by the state to represent people who are accused of criminal acts and can’t afford a lawyer to represent them.
Although it is now illegal to impose the death penalty upon people who are under 18 at the time of their crime, courts still exercise a wide discretion in sentencing children to life-long prison sentences, denying them the option of ever being released or being rehabilitated back into society.
Lucie hopes to have a hands-on experience helping with all aspects, from gathering evidence and building an effective defence, to attending court and visiting prisoners.
“It’s an extremely exciting – albeit daunting – opportunity and I can’t wait to start,” she adds. “Although the US has a very different legal system facing very different issues to those which we deal with here in the UK,
“I am confident that my experience with Amicus will prove instructive for my practice back home, and inform my ongoing work as a lawyer, ensuring access to justice for all.”
Amicus internships are unpaid and Lucie must bear all of the costs of the trip herself.
To donate to help with Lucie’s trip, or to follow her progress in New Orleans, visit her JustGiving page www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/lucie-boase-amicus