Swarthmore College Department of

Peace & Conflict Studies Blog

How death penalty defense lawyers cope with stress and trauma

Fighting for Their Lives — A Talk by Susannah Sheffer ‘86

Friday, Sept. 27, 2013, 3:00 – 4:30 p.m.

Lang Center, Keith Room, Swarthmore College

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Sheffer_86How do attorneys who represent clients facing the death penalty cope with the stress and trauma of their work? What is it like to work so hard and lose so often?

Through conversations with twenty of the most experienced and dedicated post-conviction capital defenders in the United States, Susannah Sheffer explores this emotional territory for the first time in her new book, “Fighting for Their Lives: Inside the Experiences of Capital Defense Attorneys.”

From these capital defenders we can learn not only about the deep and long-term effects of the death penalty but also about broader human questions of hope, effectiveness, success, failure, strength, fragility, and perseverance.

“I am grateful to Susannah Sheffer for bringing these stories to light.” – Sister Helen Prejean, author of “Dead Man Walking.”

Susannah Sheffer (Swarthmore ’86) is Project Director and Staff Writer at Murder Victims’ Families for Human Rights, a non-profit organization of families of murder victims and families of people who have been executed. In addition to “Fighting for Their Lives” (Vanderbilt University Press), her poetry collection “This Kind of Knowing” was also published this year by Cooper Dillon Books.

Sponsored by Lang Center for Social & Policy Studies, Philosophy Department, Religion Department, and Pre-Law Advising Office.