Meet our new intern Delano Jongen! Delano is a law student from the Netherlands and has started his internship with us on March 8, 2021. He wrote this blog to introduce himself to you.
Curiosity and coincidence
I have always wondered what circumstances push our lives in one direction or another. At a certain point, I was convinced that I wanted to do something with criminal law in the future. Then the question arose of what made me aspire towards a career in criminal law, while other people my age end up in criminal proceedings themselves. I did not let go of this thought and I kept being curious. As a result, I thought it would be a good idea to write someone my age in an American prison.
After some time, I did
some research online and wrote to someone serving a life sentence in California. What caused him to be in prison for life and what made me think working in criminal law would be something exciting and interesting at the same time? Unfortunately, I never received a response from his side. In the meantime, I wanted to know if there were more people writing to people in prison and I came across two documentaries online about Clinton and the Clinton Young Foundation. I was intrigued and shocked at the same time. How could this man be innocent whilst on death row?
At that point I wanted to follow his case, but I didn’t feel like writing to him right away. I can’t really explain why. Nonetheless, I told many people about Clinton, capital punishment and the injustices in his case. I couldn’t get Clinton and his case out of my mind.
As if it were by chance, I came across an advertisement from Clinton himself sometime later. He was looking for someone to write with. His ad was short but sweet and has not let go of me from that moment on. The photo accompanying the ad showed me a friendly face of a person I would probably have chatted with in everyday life.
The ad focused on him as a person, not the circumstances in which he found himself. I felt I had to write to him, so that’s what I did. I immediately wrote him a letter explaining who I am, what I do and why I decided to write to him. I hoped for a response, but I didn’t think he would reply. The age difference was quite large and what did I have to offer him as a young law student?
Clinton thought otherwise and assured me, ‘everyone has unique experiences to bring to the table’. This was the starting point of an extraordinary friendship. Meanwhile, I have come to know Clinton as a friendly and intelligent man, with his heart in the right place. He can have strong opinions sometimes, but is open to everyone’s perspective. He has something fiery inside him that will keep fighting until the truth is revealed. He is a real go-getter and inspires me to be one too.
His case is very interesting for me as someone studying and working in the field of criminal law, but it also frustrates me that this kind of injustice can exist for so incredibly long. Currently, I’m a law student at Tilburg University while working as a paralegal for a criminal law firm. Clinton and his case remind me every single day why I wanted to make fighting for justice my goal in life. I also believe his case is the prime example of the fact that judicial errors (could) happen here as well. Therefore, I want to make sure that I do my part to prevent this kind of injustice in the future.
That is also the reason I wanted to do more for him than just being a listening ear. It’s painful to see how the American criminal justice system is treating Clinton and many others on death row. I want to commit to his cause and contribute to an organization that wants to eradicate the injustice called the death penalty. I remembered the Clinton Young Foundation and decided to write to them to see if I would be able to help out. That turned out to be the case.
Since then I have been working as an intern for the Clinton Young Foundation. I mainly focus on the legal side of Clinton’s case. I am very committed to make a change, however small it may be! After all, I know for whom and for what purpose I’m doing so!
I sincerely hope that Clinton will be a free man again one day. I would love to meet him in person, shake his hand and talk without pen and paper between us! Who knows what the future holds. In any case, I believe that justice will prevail!
To conclude, a message to Clinton: Know that you are an inspiration to many. Remember there are people who will move heaven and earth until justice is done. Hopefully we will speak again soon! Until that time, remember there are so many reasons to be happy!