We did it. When we launched the Center on Wrongful Convictions Women’s Project in November 2012, we set ourselves a goal of bringing together exonerated women, academics, and legal professionals for a future Women’s Project conference at the CWC. Our goal was realized on March 7, 2014, when 10 wrongfully convicted women (the most ever in one place at one time) and a large supportive audience gathered for an event evenly split between panel presentations open to the public and sessions for exonerees only.
To quote my favorite Holly Near song (which dates me, but who cares?): “There’s something about the women, all those beautiful women, there’s something about the women in my life.”
I reconnected with old friends and met wonderful new ones. We addressed serious matters but also made time for fun. From the shy to the self-assured, from the veteran speaker to the first-time panelist, from the small-town resident to the city dweller . . . each wrongfully convicted woman was a unique treasure, and I loved spending time with every one of these incredible survivors. Even better was watching how they bonded with each other—they are part of an exclusive club that no one wants to join and that no one but they can truly comprehend. Time and time again I heard them express how affirming it was to relate and heal together as women.
Moving forward, the Women’s Project will build on our developing connections with potential researchers and policy makers, and the women exonerees have plans of their own to stay in contact with each other and assist future members of their sisterhood upon release from prison. Looking back, we have an exquisite photo album that will continue to inspire and remind us of why we do what we do.