Michelle Byrom Granted
Death Row Exoneree Sabrina Butler Porter Fights to End Capital Punishment
Sabrina Butler Porter was convicted of murdering her infant son and sentenced to death in 1990. At that time, Sabrina was the only female inmate on Mississippi’s death row. Sabrina was acquitted on retrial in 1995, after neighbors offered evidence corroborating her account that her son’s injuries resulted from attempts to administer CPR, and the medical examiner belatedly attributed her son’s death to a kidney-related illness. Sabrina published a book about her story, and currently works with Witness to Innocence, an organization dedicated to allowing death row survivors to speak out against the death penalty. Last week, Sabrina visited the Kentucky Senate to advocate for pending legislation that would abolish the death penalty in that state. Read about her experience in Kentucky here.
The Center on Wrongful Convictions Women’s Project was pleased to host Sabrina as an attendee and panelist at its Conference on March 7, 2014. For more information about her wrongful conviction and exoneration, see her story.
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 are coping with deep personal losses, rendering them especially vulnerable to high-pressure interrogation tactics that sometimes 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, by police, prosecutors, judges, jurors, and witnesses.|
|In cases in which no crime has occurred—such as those arising from accidental or natural deaths that are mistaken for homicides—convictions are likely to ensue. Because the evidence in such cases is often entirely circumstantial, identifying wrongful convictions is difficult and rectifying them is complicated.|