Juvenile Lifers Project with Texas Defender Service

Students will research the background, history, and circumstances of individuals who were sentenced to life without parole for offenses that occurred before they were 18 years old, in preparation for new sentencing hearings. In June 2012, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Miller v. Alabama that mandatory life-without-parole sentences for children convicted of homicide are unconstitutional. This decision requires courts to conduct new sentencing hearings for any child previously sentenced to life without parole. Law student volunteers will collaborate with attorneys and mitigation specialists to create a compelling mitigation presentation that will be used to advocate for fair and just resentencing.


Texas Defender Service

Texas Defender Service has been a nationwide leader in the fight to end the death penalty. Through a quarter century of litigation and advocacy, TDS has transformed the legal landscape for people facing sentences of death in Texas. TDS has expanded its mission, and along with its death penalty work, it fights for the end of mass incarceration and excessive punishment in Texas through direct representation, policy reform, and public education. TDS stands up for the dignity and humanity of people harmed by mass incarceration, and advocates for a reimagined legal system that is just, humane, and free from racism and cruelty.

Project Details

Project Start Date

September 2023

Approximate hours of work requested
20-30 hours over the course of the fall semester
Training will be scheduled in September based on selected volunteers’ schedules and will be either at the TDS Austin office or online
Skills used
Interviewing; document requests; document review; legal research and writing; mitigation research; team collaboration
Project location
Virtual and at the TDS Austin office; travel to and from Texas Department of Criminal Justice facilities also will take place and be organized by TDS
1023 Springdale Road, Suite 14E, Austin, TX 78721
Number of student volunteers requested
Class year preference
2L, 3L, LLM
Required skills
Strong research, communication, and empathy skills and a commitment to justice and fairness; strong oral, written, research, and investigation skills; ability to work well in a team-based environment; highly organized
To Apply
Submit a cover letter and resume to Estelle Hebron-Jones at ehebron-jones@texasdefender.org by Friday, September 8