Friday, December 7, 2012

Bulletin: First Innocence project for women launched by Northwestern Law in Chicago. Bravo. HL.

POST: "First innocence project dedicated to women launched today in Chicago," by Nancy Petro, published on the Wrongful Convictions Blog on November 29, 2012.

GIST: "The Center on Wrongful Convictions (CWC) at Northwestern Law has been instrumental in exonerating four persons in a category that represents less than seven percent of the more than 1,000 persons who have been exonerated in the United States: Women. Today, the Center will launch its new Women’s Project, the first Innocence Project dedicated to the special needs and circumstances of women who have been wrongfully convicted.........Indeed, these women shared more than the nightmare of wrongful conviction. The four exonerees who were clients of the Center were all single mothers charged with murdering their children. None had a motive to do so. All were grieving the loss of a child when they were charged and were therefore particularly weakened and vulnerable. All endured arguably the worst accusation imaginable, one that garners no sympathy from the criminal justice system or the public. “There is typically no DNA evidence in cases with female defendants, making their convictions harder to fight,” said Rob Warden. “Sometimes there was not even a crime at all; for instance, a natural or accidental death might be mistaken for shaken baby syndrome or arson. Convictions of women are frequently based on entirely circumstantial evidence.”.........In addition to the direct representation of selected clients, the CWC Women’s Project plans to monitor potential cases of wrongfully convicted women across the country, facilitate the sharing of information about these cases, and educate the public about relevant issues. Through research, discussion and interdisciplinary dialogue, the Center hopes to explore the policies and practices that lead to the wrongful convictions of women and the difficulties they face in reentry into society after the trauma of wrongful conviction. Finally, the Center will seek to foster criminal justice reforms aimed at reducing wrongful convictions of women."

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