Education and Participation

Students engage with the Project in two ways — through the Clemency Project Field Placement Program and the Sentencing Advocacy Practicum.

Through the Field Placement Program, students work under Professor’s Murray’s direct supervision, with Professor June Carbone as faculty advisor, on pending federal and state clemency applications for current inmates. Students communicate directly with the client-inmates, by phone and letter, and, to the extent possible, through prison visits. Students analyze the client’s personal and criminal history, offense conduct and prison records, communicate with the client’s family and friends, and develop a release plan. This information is written up into a comprehensive petition, accompanied by an extensive appendix with all relevant documents. Students typically earn three credits for participation in this program.

The Sentencing Advocacy Practicum is modeled like a traditional law clinic. Students meet once a week and explore the role of sentencing advocacy in state and federal sentencing systems, the factors that influence its quality, and the insights from social scientists that can critique and improve it. The class draws on the wealth of interdisciplinary expertise on the University of Minnesota campus as well as in our local professional community. Most importantly, the students learn by doing—through hands-on involvement in actual pending cases. Working either on clemency petitions or on actual pending sentencing cases, the students get to know a real human being and their family in the cross-hairs of the criminal justice system, and will strategize, research, and develop an effective sentencing/clemency petition. Using a “teaching hospital” format, students then brainstorm each other’s cases, critique the sentencing strategy, and learn from the courtroom experiences.

View the Sentencing Advocacy Practicum syllabus.

Contact Information

University of Minnesota Law School

Walter F. Mondale Hall | 229 19th Avenue South | Minneapolis, MN 55455

P: 612-625-5000

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