Women's Project

Women's Project files amicus brief in Minnesota Supreme Court

The CWC Women's Project has filed an amicus brief in the Minnesota Supreme Court on behalf of Danna Back, a woman wrongfully convicted of second degree manslaughter. The actual perpetrator was an acquaintance of Ms. Back, and the high court overturned her conviction after holding she was not legally responsible for the perpetrator's actions. State prosecutors are nonetheless attempting to block her bid for compensation for the years she spent in prison. The Innocence Network has also filed an amicus brief in support of Ms. Back.

Amanda Knox tackles women and false confessions

We highly recommend this article by exoneree Amanda Knox, making the case for more research on how women experience interrogation tactics. The article quotes Women's Project Co-Director Judy Royal and cites an article by CWC attorneys Andrea Lewis and Sara Sommervold on the role of stereotypes in the wrongful conviction of women.

Amanda Knox

Amanda Knox: Why Do Innocent Women Confess to Crimes They Didn’t Commit?

Women's Project screens San Antonio Four documentary

On September 29, 2016, the Women's Project hosted a screening of Southwest of Salem: The Story of the San Antonio Four. The San Antonio Four are Kristie Mayhugh, Elizabeth Ramirez, Cassandra Rivera and Anna Vasquez, four Latina lesbians wrongfully convicted in 1997 sexually abusing two children. Their attorney, Mike Ware, began the program by discussing the recently passed Texas junk science law that helped free them. Following the film screening, these inspiring women discussed their experience and their continuing efforts to clear their names and answered questions from the audience. Event page Facebook photo album

CWC staff and San Antonio Four

Women's Project Featured in Mother Jones Magazine

Kristine Bunch

The attorneys of the Women’s Project, and Center on Wrongful Convictions client Kristine Bunch, are featured in an in-depth article by Molly Redden in the current issue of Mother Jones. The article discusses Kristine’s case, the reasons behind the formation of the Women’s Project, and some of the unique characteristics of Women’s Project cases. Andrea Lewis, Kristine Bunch, and Karen Daniel were interviewed on August 5, 2015, on HuffPost Live #FreeSpeechZone.

Why Women's Cases Are Different

Innocent women accused of heinous crimes face extraordinary challenges. In many cases, they are suspected of harming their children or other loved ones. As a result, when under investigation, they may be coping with deep personal loss, rendering them especially vulnerable to high-pressure interrogation tactics that can lead to false confessions or seemingly inculpatory statements. When women—traditionally viewed as nurturers and protectors—are accused of murdering or sexually abusing children, they are particularly reviled by society, including, of course, police, prosecutors, judges, jurors, and witnesses.

40% of female exonerees were convicted harming children or loved ones in their care.

In cases in which no crime has occurred—such as accidental or natural deaths that are mistaken for homicides—the evidence is often entirely circumstantial. DNA evidence, the gold standard for exonerating the innocent, has been central to less than 3% of women's exonerations (compared to 22% of men's exonerations). In circumstantial cases, other types of forensic evidence may play an unusually large role, yet the evidence may be erroneous. More than a third of exonerated women's cases involved flawed or misleading forensic evidence.

Two-thirds of female exonerees were convicted in cases in which no crime occurred.

*Statistics on this webpage are derived from the National Registry of Exonerations and are reasonably current but may not be fully up to date.