About 43% of women exonerees have been convicted of harming or killing a child or loved one in their care. DNA evidence rarely proves their innocence, as it has in more than 25% of men’s exonerations. Rather, DNA evidence has played a role in only 7% of women’s exonerations. But it was Bunch’s initial interrogation that set in motion her wrongful conviction. The classic manual “Criminal Interrogation and Confessions,” widely used by police, features the highly criticized “Reid Technique,” a nine-step interrogation guide designed to garner a confession. Bunch never gave one, but the manual provides other damaging, gendered instructions, stating: In a “final, yet insincere effort to gain sympathy,” women sometimes engage in manipulative crying as a ploy. At trial, Bunch’s lawyer told her not to cry or show any emotion. Instead, she appeared stoic, yet she was still accused of being manipulative. “I understand you have arranged to have yourself impregnated during the period of time that you were out of jail and prior to the trial,” Judge John Westhafer, said, laying down a 60-year sentence. “I can think of no other reason for that to have happened than that you thought it would work to your advantage somehow in this process. It will not.” He added that he would see to it that the child became a ward of the state and was put up for adoption. “You will not raise that child,” Westhafer reprimanded. “You’ll have nothing to do with that child.” The judge was wrong."
Adapted from Exoneree Diaries: The Fight for Innocence, Independence, and Identity, copyright © 2016 by Alison Flowers. First hardcover edition published June 7, 2016, by Haymarket Books. All rights reserved.