Problems and Challenges

Death row prisoners need legal, financial, and community assistance to counter negative forces marshaled against them. Many need their family and friends to have a better understanding of their cases. This training will identify the problems and challenges families and loved ones of death row prisoners face and provide them with critical skills, knowledge, and information.

The Capital Defense Handbook for Defendants 

The Capital Defense Handbook for Defendants and their Families is an easy to read, step-by-step resource guide that provides practical information to capital case defendants, prisoners, and family members who are navigating the criminal justice system from the point of arrest through the trial and appeals process. The Handbook presents both general and state specific information. The state information is separate and will be a handout included with the Handbook. The Handbook is an invaluable resource for defendants, prisoners, and family members who want to understand their legal rights, interact effectively with lawyers, and participate in defense of their own lives or in the defense of their loved ones.

Model Case Summary & Chart

An integral component of the Handbook is the section that demonstrates how to write a Model Case Summary and Chart. Few prisoners, or their families, know how to summarize a case so that potentially helpful lawyers or advocates reviewing the case can comprehend the main points without investing undue time and energy. Typically, prisoners send out volumes of information, with sections of transcripts and appeals, and no one ever looks at them because the information is unclear and overwhelming. The section on Case Summary will help prisoners and/or family members to advocate effectively, detail key issues, and summarize court decisions in a clear, concise manner that persuades a lawyer or advocate to get involved in the case.

Training Program 

The Training Program will be a series of one-day training sessions for family members and loved ones of defendants facing charges for capital murder, before or after conviction. It will identify the problems faced by families of prisoners and will provide information, resources, and skills training in areas critical to their effective functioning on behalf of their loved one.

Part of the training will include teaching family members to communicate what they have learned to their loved ones in prison. The purpose of the hands-on training sessions will be to reinforce and explain the information in the Handbook and to transform book knowledge into a working tool that an individual can apply to a specific case. It will also provide an opportunity for people to learn from questions and answers and from the experience of other people participating in the program.

Describe each product, speaking directly to the reader as a potential customer. Use "you" to communicate directly. Be as specific as possible. 

Since you only have a few, make every word count in your product description!

A booklet can be an effective tool to describe and promote your company or organization. Use it to describe your goals, mission, services and products. It can also be used to explain how to join a club, enroll in classes, or volunteer. Write with selling in mind, but be respectful of your reader and do it with subtlety, such as "Introducing Our Business."

Goals of the Training

Participants will:

  • Increase their understanding of their own needs and problems managing their lives and identify the resources available to to support and assist them 

  • Acquire specific strategies for generating community support for themselves and their loved one 

  • Understand and use the Case Summary and Chart as tools to help them 

  • Increase their skills to facilitate working effectively with the lawyer representing their loved one (including deadlines)

  • Generate strategies for keeping their loved one's case alive

  • Work with and then take away with them a step-by-step manual explaining how cases proceed through the courts and specific state information with a toll-free number for questions

One state will be selected to test a rapid response approach that targets cases where the defendant is in the early stages of the process and has not yet gone to trial. The impact of early intervention will be assessed.


American Friends Service Committee

Equal Justice USA

Quixote Center

National Death Row Assistance Network of CURE


Summer June -> Sept Winter Oct -> May


% Claudia Whitman

6 Tolman Rd

Peaks Island, ME   04108

Phone: (207) 766-2418


% Claudia Whitman

12200 Rd 41.9

Mancos, CO  81328

Phone (970) 533-7383





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