By Tiffany Lawrence, M.A., LCSW
When it comes to the lives of people who are preparing to be sentenced or who have already been sentenced to die in your community, the United States Supreme Court and the American Bar Association Guidelines are clear: a qualified capital Mitigation Specialist must be hired as a member of the defense team. Capital Mitigation Specialists (particularly those who have a background in clinical social work or psychology) have the ability to build rapport, as well as the diagnostic and information-gathering skills necessary to elicit very sensitive and often humiliating facts from family and friends about the capital defendant’s life. There are usually numerous details about his or her life that the capital defendant does not feel safe sharing with detectives, his or her own attorney or defense investigators. And if a defendant’s attorney is unable to get details about, for example, pervasive childhood sexual abuse, then how will that attorney be able to present those details to a judge and jury?