The Women’s Prison Project at Tulane University Wins Award From the American College of Trial Lawyers

Professors Mattes and Kondkar

The Women’s Prison Project – an innovative Tulane University Law School clinical program providing legal services and advocacy for imprisoned women who were victims of domestic violence – has won the prestigious Emil Gumpert Award. The award, the highest honor conferred by the American College of Trial Lawyers on a single organization annually, recognizes programs whose principal purpose is to maintain and improve the administration of justice. It comes with a $100,000 grant.

The Women’s Prison Project is a first-of-its-kind collaboration between Tulane’s Domestic Violence and Criminal Justice clinics and focuses on providing legal representation to domestic violence survivors charged or imprisoned after killing an abuser or for having committed crimes under an abuser’s coercion or duress. Clinic students receive hands-on legal training, and the women receive representation on their legal cases as well as their parole or clemency hearings. The project was founded by Professor Becki Kondkar, director of Tulane’s Domestic Violence Clinic, and Professor Katherine Mattes, director of Tulane’s Criminal Justice Clinic.

“This award presents an opportunity to shed light on an issue few people even know about,” said Professor Kondkar. “Too many incarcerated women continue to serve long or life sentences for killing abusive partners, often decades ago and long before our societal understandings of domestic violence evolved into what they are today. Their decades of incarceration has rendered them invisible – now it’s both necessary and urgent that we bring their stories back into the public consciousness.”

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