2018 PFIG Recipient Bradley Skeen

Bradley Skeen – June 8th, 2018

Bradley Skeen

2018 PFIG Winner
Bradley Skeen
Major: Political Philosophy, Policy & Law, and African-American Studies.
UVA 2019

Internship: State Department, Washington, DC

Read about my internship

Journal Entry #1 - June 8, 2018

The first few weeks of my internship with the Department of State have been full of acclimation, adaption, and so much learning. My knowledge of the topics and programs I’m working on has increased exponentially in just a few days. Altogether, I think it’s fair to say that my experience has been slightly different, and a great deal better than, my “internship” as a server at an Outback Steakhouse last summer.

So, you may be wondering, "what are you actually doing in your internship thus far?" Fair question. Within the State Department, I’m working for the Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement (INL) in an office focusing primarily on the Middle East and Africa. INL essentially provides consultative and fiscal aid to other countries in order to bolster their criminal justice systems and deter illegal activity. Though the Bureau’s name may sound a bit punitive, the work I’ve done thus far has primarily centered around the prioritization of civil rights and public safety. I’ve mainly focused on criminal justice issues in Lebanon and Syria and have learned more than I could have imagined about their respective legal systems and the nuanced challenges they face.

As someone who knows more about domestic criminal justice policy than that of other countries, I’ve been shocked and fascinated by the disparity between the U.S. and Lebanese legal systems and have come to realize how much I took for granted before my internship began. The disparities in the roles served by key legal figures (judges, prosecutors, and defense attorneys) are myriad, resulting in different processes and overall power dynamics. That being said, though Lebanon’s civil system differs in many ways from the U.S.’ use of common law, it’s been exciting to research potential implementations of American criminal justice policy in Lebanon. I’ve spent a considerable amount of time studying and writing on legal representation, the use (or lack thereof) of plea-bargaining and bail, and the implementation of parole policies in Lebanon. Other pursuits that have kept be busy include evaluating grant proposals from different NGOs to conduct projects and attending an array of interesting events including presentations on conflict resolution in Yemen and radicalization in detention facilities.

This is the first time I’ve worked in a bona fide office environment. It’s the first time I’ve consistently worn a blazer to my place of work. It’s also the first time I’ve been around a group of people who know so much about international policy and who travel across the globe on a regular basis. I work across from someone who just got back from a multi-month trip in Abuja, Nigeria. I report to, and collaborate with, people who meet with ambassadors and foreign leaders on a regular basis. I’m lucky to have this opportunity and am looking forward to the weeks ahead!

Journal Entry #2

more information coming soon...

Journal Entry #3

more information coming soon...