(This is the first of what will hopefully be many guest postings by Razor Wire Women contributors and allies. Here, Gloria Killian, the Executive Director of Action Committee for Women in Prison, briefly reflects on the nearly two decades she spent imprisoned for a crime she did not commit.)
I spent 17 ½ years in prison for a crime that I did not commit, and I faced the death penalty twice for that crime. Following my conviction I was sentenced to 32 years to life. I fought this case for a total of 22 years before my conviction was reversed and I was finally released. Despite the devastation that my wrongful conviction wreaked upon my life and my family, my most important experiences really have nothing to do with my case.
I learned that women in prison are just people like you and me. Their experiences may have been very different from ours and they have clearly made some bad choices, but these women are not monsters. Instead they are our mothers, daughters, sisters, aunts, and cousins. They have the same wants, needs and desires that we all do, and they very much want to do better. It is criminal for society to turn their backs on the incarcerated and treat them as if they are irredeemable, for they are not. They just need some help from others, as we all do at some time in our lives.