When I was in 5th grade, all the cool kids put lots of buttons on their jean jackets. The more buttons you had, the cooler you were. Now, I had lots of the requisite Garfield buttons, sassy slogan buttons, and I had one purple "S" that I thought was awesome.
But I also had two other buttons. Buttons that probably set me apart a bit from most 5th graders. These buttons read "Execute Justice, Not People" and "Why do we kill people who kill people to show that killing people is wrong?" I've never been a normal person...
In 8th grade, my debate topic was the death penalty and no way would I take the pro side. Throughout high school and college, I followed Amnesty International's bulletins. My senior thesis was on the death penalty. And in law school, I was a vocal member of my university's chapter of the Campaign to End the Death Penalty, participating in debates on the square outside the union among other things.
I hate, hate, hate that my state has a death penalty statute and pursues death sentences against my clients. I wish we had won the fight decades ago. But the reality is that we haven't won yet. So there is still a fight to fight and I have somehow managed to become one of the handful of people in my state who get to be on the front lines (and who get paid for it, too.)
This weekend, I am surrounded by the best and the brightest death penalty defenders from around the nation. We're talking about the legendary Thurgood Marshall, who risked his own life so many times to defend the lives of others. We're hearing from the current legends of the game who have achieved major victories in the last three decades. And no one is looking at me and calling for security, yelling, "What is this silly little girl doing here?" Because while I might sometimes still feel like that dreamy 5th grader, no one else sees her. These defenders see a fellow fighter, someone who naturally belongs among their ranks. I may not know how to manage any other aspects of my life, but man, did I nail living out this dream.
If that 5th grader could only see me now, she would think grown-up Sarah was just about the coolest person ever.
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