U.S. Capitol building

Goodbye to Dana Tapper and the PDS Summer Interns

Jamison KoehlerJuveniles

Summer is over, and the Public Defender Service (PDS) interns assigned to the Youth Services Center are gone. Although I never met any of them in person (they were there during the day, and I visit clients evenings and over the weekend), I will miss them very much. So will my clients. The interns were young and smart and had an ability to connect with the juveniles in a way that is not possible for this middle-aged white guy. Because of them, access to a client was just a quick phone call away, yet another service PDS provides to this city.

Charged with ensuring that the post-disposition needs of District-committed youth are being met, PDS’ Juvenile Services Program helps kids adjust to life at the secure detention facility. Program staff also represent children at disciplinary and community status review hearings, monitor the conditions of confinement, and often serve as a liaison between the youth and their lawyers.

Dana Tapper, the intern I worked with most directly, is back in Charlottesville for her third year of law school at the University of Virginia. Some law students seeking a career in criminal justice toggle between prosecution and defense. Tapper is clearly in it for the defense. Checking out her profile on LinkedIn, I see that, after graduating Phi Beta Kappa from the University of Michigan in 2010, she has also worked as an intern at the Office of the State Appellate Defender in Illinois and at the Charlottesville-Albemarle Office of the Public Defender. You get a sense that, wherever her legal career takes her, she will be back working in some capacity to protect the rights of the accused. I hope she uses me as a reference.