People are deprived of their agency, power, and choice when a crime is committed against them. What the justice system provides within its purview is a means to restore this by holding those who commit crimes accountable. But when convictions are overturned and those convicted are exonerated, survivors are back in that point of being deprived of agency, power, choice, and closure post-conviction. This webinar unpacks the survivors’ experience with exoneration and what Healing Justice hopes to bring in this space.
This session’s speakers are:
- Katie Monroe, Executive Director of Healing Justice
- Jennifer Thompson, Founder of Healing Justice, and a survivor of a failed criminal justice process.
- Andrea Harrison, an Advocate for Victims Rights, and a crime victim surviving family member
Specifics of this session include:
- An overview of Healing Justice, its focus and goal as an organization, and the services they offer.
- Jennifer and Andrea’s experience during the exoneration of those convicted for the crimes against Jennifer and Andrea’s mother.
- How they learned about the exoneration and how it impacted them at that time.
- The deficiencies in assistance extended by the justice system and victim services during the exoneration procedure.
- The specific things they needed during and after the exoneration, what they expect victim services and criminal justice resources to consider and provide victims and their families with.
- Why exonerations are being done and recent data on post-conviction exonerations.
- How wrongful convictions impact the victims, all those involved in the case, and the society at large?
- Healing Justice’s Post-Conviction Survivor Project: the stakeholders involved, the goals pursued, and activities that support these goals.
- Lessons learned from the victims, practitioners, and the literature through the efforts undertaken by Healing Justice.
- How an exoneration retraumatize and impact the victims.
- The lack of resources to address victims’ needs in terms of access to service, information and updates, victim-centered sensitivity and support, and logistics to navigate the media attention.
- How practitioners want to provide trauma-informed, comprehensive, and continuing support and services.
- The lack of training, resources, and manpower for the practitioners that hinder their capability to assist and support in post-conviction exonerations.
- The missing collaboration piece across the different agencies involved.
- How existing literature prescribes that victims’ rights extend to post-conviction settings including claims of innocence and exonerations.
- The resources Healing Justice is providing for practitioners to better inform their policy, practices, and protocol.
- A rundown of the guiding principles that Healing Justice drafted to advance the welfare of victims and provide them with better services and support.
- The different resources made available to connect the victims with the services and help they need.
- Resources for media to better guide them with how to cover post-conviction exoneration cases without contributing to the harm and trauma of the victims.
Questions from the audience were about:
- Whether those exonerated are considered crime victims as well.
- Ways that those working in the criminal justice field can provide better service to victims and survivors in post-conviction exoneration cases.
- Andrea and Jennifer’s engagement with law enforcement.
- How Healing Justice is working with the Innocence Project to include victims in the exoneration cases.
Resources and Handouts:
- Picking Cotton (Paid Link): Amazon Book by Jennifer Thompson
- Handout: Sample Agency Policy
- Handout: At a Glance: Guidelines for Practitioners
- Handout: Eight Guiding Principles
- Handout: Navigating Post Conviction Claims of Factual Innocence and Exonerations: Information for Crime Victims and Survivors
- “This whole webinar was incredibly valuable. The trauma-informed approach throughout the webinar and ensuring that survivors’ voices are elevated from the very beginning was a crucial reminder to do that in everyday interactions. It also helped me to identify gaps within the system I work in who is responsible for notifying and walking survivors through the system and what role each player plays.” — Tawny
- “Hearing directly from the victim and victim’s daughter’s experience. Thank you for reinforcing that victims need all the support they can get before and after any and all court proceedings. One thing that stuck out for me was the seasonal defective disorder. And how taking the time to ask how a victim is doing, can go a long way in showing your support and care. Thank you for this training.” — Micheala
- “I am a probation officer so I have more interaction with the person under supervision than the victim. This allowed me to see the victim as a real person and to understand their personal journey. I would love to be in a position where I can show more support for the victims of these horrific crimes.” — Stacey
- “This was so good. Looking at crimes through this lens is critical and yet, not often done. I deeply appreciated hearing the victims’ stories and thoughts and process. I hope there are more webinars like this one!” — Nathalie
- “Great and interesting topic. Actually not one I have pondered much before this. Thank you.” — Jennifer
- “The presenters provided a lot of useful insight into not only working with victims in the post-conviction process, but also the special considerations in the case of an exoneration. Thank you for your strength and for sharing your stories!” — Ashtyn
This webinar was pre-approved for 1 CEU credit by the National Advocate Credentialing Program (NACP)® and the DoD Sexual Assault Advocate Certification Program (D-SAACP). Founded in 1975, the National Organization for Victim Assistance (NOVA) is the oldest national victim assistance organization of its type in the United States and is the recognized leader in victim advocacy, education and credentialing. To learn more about NOVA, visit trynova.org.