UNCG Campus Weekly

Campus Weekly is published each Wednesday when classes are in session. In the summer, it is published biweekly.

Saundra Westervelt examines ‘one of the most tragic things that can happen to you in the criminal justice system’

Imagine losing 10, 15, 20 years of your life, convicted of murder and sentenced to death for a crime you did not commit. Dr. Saundra D. Westervelt (UNCG Sociology), a UNCG faculty member since 1997, and Dr. Kimberly J. Cook (UNCW Sociology and Criminology) traveled the country to meet 18 death row exonerees who experienced such losses. Their new book, “Life After Death Row: Exonerees’ Search for Community and Identity,” chronicles the exonerees’ struggles to reclaim their lives after being set free and examines how policy changes could mitigate those struggles for others.

“They were basically ignored and neglected, and very few of them received assistance or compensation when they got out. It seemed like the part of the story that absolutely had to be told,” Westervelt says.

“If you ask them what they want the most, they just want somebody to apologize to them. They just want somebody to own it, to say, “Gosh I’m so sorry this happened to you and we will try to make sure it never happens to somebody else. …But they rarely get that. Usually they get the opposite.”

Full story at UNCG News.

By Betsi Robinson