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GIVING BACK

Kara Kurland, 2014 recipient of the Audrey J. Harris Summer Internship Award, interned at the Wisconsin Innocence Project.

Majors: Legal Studies and Sociology with a certificate in Criminal Justice

Goals: Go to law school, become a lawyer, and end the war on drugs.

This summer, I had the most amazing opportunity to work as an intern for the Wisconsin Innocence Project. To be honest, I didn’t really know what to expect, but all expectations I did have were absolutely exceeded. Within the first week, I was assigned five clients, two of which I visited in prison the first week of my internship. My internship supervisors threw me right in with the law students and just let me independently do my work. While this was clearly overwhelming to begin with, I could not have asked for a better situation. This independence allowed me to really learn the legal system on my own, and how the process of exoneration works- from the initial step of screening a case, to the last step of exoneration.

There simply is no daily routine to my internship, I basically do what I think needs to get done. My tasks vary anywhere from reading police reports, to tracking down witnesses, to calling attorneys, to writing briefs, to visiting clients, and beyond. There is never a dull day at the Wisconsin Innocence Project!

Throughout my internship, I learned that much to do with the criminal justice system is basically a big waiting game. With every letter sent, message left, or brief written, a response takes a long time. This has definitely been the most difficult part of my internship, seeing as I only have 10 weeks here. I quickly realized that there is no way I would be able to accomplish as much as I initially set out to, due to this waiting game. Thankfully, I have received a wonderful opportunity from my supervising attorneys to stay on with the Innocence Project for the next semester, and continue working on my cases. I am most excited about this because one my client’s convictions has just been overturned, which means the next few months on his case will be working directly on his (hopefully) near exoneration!

I am so extremely grateful for this awesome opportunity to intern at the Wisconsin Innocence Project, and I am also very grateful to be a recipient of the Audrey J. Harris award. This award has significantly eased my financial burden for the summer, and has allowed me to enjoy this incredible summer that I have spent in Madison!