The ranks of those exonerated of crimes they didn’t commit increases every year, raising questions central to society’s ideas about fairness, justice, and responsibility. Sociological research can help us understand exonerees in ways that go beyond basic descriptive and journalistic accounts. If incarceration of an innocent person can be considered a sustained catastrophe, like a flood, earthquake, or other disaster with long-term consequences, we can understand the human suffering experienced by exonerees just as we do other trauma survivors.

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online resources

Contexts Podcast

Listen to an interview with Saundra D. Westervelt and Kimberly J. Cook on the Contexts Podcast.

learn more about the innocence project

In the article, Westervelt and Cook discuss The Innocence Project. At innocenceproject.org, you can view an interactive map of exonerations by state.

Watch this video about how lawyers at The Innocence Project helped exonerate Herman Atkins after 12 years in prison:

other resources

Watch the trailer for the documentary, "After Innocence":