Legal Briefs Podcast #6: Post-Conviction Survivor Resources from Healing Justice
Contributing Author: National District Attorneys Association
Healing Justice is an organization dedicated to addressing the harm caused by wrongful convictions. Earlier this year, Healing Justice released its first set of resources as a part of the Responding to Original Victims in Wrongful Conviction Cases project, funded by the U.S. Department of Justice’s Office for Victims of Crime. In this episode of Legal Briefs, NDAA speaks with Healing Justice’s Katie Monroe, Executive Director, and Kristina (Kris) Rose, Director of Strategic Partnerships — both were instrumental in the efforts of this important project.
Healing Justice has created a web-based resource portal for victims and survivors of crime who are impacted and revictimized by post-conviction claims of innocence and exonerations. The portal is also meant to be a resource for prosecutors, law enforcement, and victim advocates who are involved with these cases so that they can take a victim-centered and trauma-informed approach to ensuring that crime victims are notified of and updated on post-conviction processes.
The portal, Post-Conviction Survivor Resources (survivorservices.org), includes practical tools as well as videos from victims and survivors who describe their experiences and share their needs. The tools include sample policies for agencies in providing notification and support to crime victims, guidelines for victim service providers and allied professionals, and an information packet for original victims. All parts of this resource portal are created by listening to victims and survivors themselves and understanding their perspectives. The goal is to ensure that crime victims and survivors know they have a voice and are empowered to assert their own control over the processes involved with wrongful convictions.
Healing Justice works closely with prosecutors who are on the front lines of these wrongful conviction cases. For example, a district attorney office worked with Healing Justice to ensure that a survivor had the support she needed by informing her of the exoneration process, providing a trained social worker, and making sure the media understood the survivor’s perspective and was by no means to be blamed. Healing Justice is committed to working with district attorney offices to ensure that everyone is treated well, especially the survivors.
Healing Justice was founded in 2015 by a rape survivor, Jennifer Thompson. Thompson discovered more than a decade after the original conviction of her perpetrator that the conviction was mistaken. The actual perpetrator had been free and continued to commit many additional rapes and other violent crimes. Many people don’t realize that crime victims are a forgotten and marginalized group of individuals. Jennifer Thompson’s vision for Healing Justice is to bring more awareness and attention to the crime victims experience.