- Women and Innocence
- Life After Innocence advocates for innocent people adversely affected by the criminal justice system
- Custody after Innocence
- The Art and Craft of Writing
Laura Caldwell is a Lawyer-turned-author-turned-Life Saver.
She is a former civil trial attorney, now Distinguished Scholar in Residence, Director of Life After Innocence, published author of 10 novels and 1 nonfiction book. With novels published in over 22 countries and translated into more than 13 languages, Caldwell had left the law behind, or so she thought. Research on her 6th novel led her to the criminal case of Jovan Mosley, a young man charged with murder and sitting in a Cook County holding cell for over 5 years without a trial. Compelled by his story, Caldwell joined a renowned criminal defense attorney to defend him, ultimately proving his innocence and inspiring her first nonfiction book, Long Way Home: A Young Man Lost in the System and the Two Women Who Found Him.
By working with Mosley, and witnessing his intense struggle to assimilate into a now foreign and unfriendly world, Caldwell became keenly aware that while many programs are available for ex-offenders after their release, the innocent in most states receive no assistance.
Caldwell was moved to create Life After Innocence, an innovative and first of its kind program that aids exonerees–people who have been wrongfully convicted and later found completely innocent–to begin their lives again and reclaim their rights as citizens.
Caldwell’s fictional work began in the women’s fiction genre, and she soon turned to writing mysteries and thrillers, most recently focusing her attention on a returning character, Izzy McNeil. The series has received critical acclaim and nominations for prestigious industry awards. Laura Caldwell is also a freelance magazine writer and has been widely published both domestically and internationally.
The prison population in the United States is approximately 2,217,000. Female prisoners account for 9.3% of the US prison population. Women are the minority in prisons all over the world, but their numbers steadily grow each year at a rate faster than the male population. In many cases, the victim that emerges from female imprisonment is the child of those imprisoned. As of 2010, more than 800,000 of the then nearly 1.5 million US prisoners were parents of children under the age of 18. Of those children, 22 percent were under the age of four.
It is fairly common for women to lose custody of her children even after just a short amount of time in prison. Some countries make arrangements that allow for babies or small children to actually live in the prison with their mothers until they reach a certain age. This is not the case in all US prisons. Countries like Russia and Kazakhstan require that children live in buildings that are attached to prisons, which allow the mothers to have scheduled, regular access. In other countries there are specialized units for inmates who have children. In these units, the women and children are allowed to live together. In Illinois, the Decatur Women’s Facility has a Moms and Babies program where the child can live with the mother in prison if the mother is the primary caretaker. To qualify for this program the mother must be within two years of being released from prison.
Most countries that provide accommodations for children to live with their imprisoned mothers also set age limit.
The Bangkok Rules are the minimum standards the United Nations propose for female prisoners. They were proposed in December of 2010 due to the overwhelming lack of support for female inmates throughout the world.
In the United States there is a very different life for female prisoners.