Going to Jail…For Work

Working at the Public Defender Service for the District of Columbia was one of the most eye opening experiences I have ever had. I got to see communities that I did not know even existed in Washington. Something that I find super interesting about the typical DC tourist is that they only ever see the monuments or what I like to call the “pretty” parts of DC. Prior to my internship, I was that typical tourist as I was only privy to the pretty parts of DC and not DC as a whole. The attorneys at the Public Defender Service represent indigent residents of the DC/Maryland/Virginia area. Part of my job included going to the DC Jail on a fairly regular basis to visit my clients and attend hearings. Something that I always found funny was talking about work to someone over the phone while I was on the subway. Quite often, people would overhear me saying that I “went to jail” earlier that day. Sometimes I would catch an odd look from another rider but I would quickly follow up my statement by adding “for work” to mitigate any assumptions. What I liked about the jail and the clients I worked for was that it helped me see what I consider to be the forgotten part of DC. The people my office represented were in true need of help and representation and if systems like public defender offices were not in place, they would not receive the representation and fair trial they are entitled to. Seeing more than just the employees on Capitol Hill in their business suits and elegant dresses helped me see how diverse DC is- socially, culturally, and especially economically. Getting to go to jail for work has helped me learn that DC is not just contained to marble buildings and elections but it is filled with different communities that need help, service, and recognition. I value this experience for showing me an area of law I knew very little about but also for showing me a part of DC I knew very little about.

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