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Old Gold & Black

How the South Carolina Innocence Initiative is educating people on wrongful convictions

Students+Kaelyn+Emon+%E2%80%9824+and+Caroline+Watson+%E2%80%9824+discuss+future+plans+of+the+Innocence+Project+at+Wofford.+On+Dec.+7%2C+there+was+a+letter+writing+opportunity+for+students+to+write+holiday+cards+to+those+incarcerated.+
Caroline Parker
Students Kaelyn Emon ‘24 and Caroline Watson ‘24 discuss future plans of the Innocence Project at Wofford. On Dec. 7, there was a letter writing opportunity for students to write holiday cards to those incarcerated.

Wofford houses many different clubs and organizations that students can be a part of. One of these organizations is the South Carolina Innocence Initiative, I, which was started last academic year.

Kaelyn Emon, ‘24, the organization’s president, described the mission of the organization as examining the problem of wrongful convictions while advocating for justice.

“Our platform is dedicated to education, outreach and advocacy,” Emon stated. She expressed the organization’s focus as mainly on education and advocacy.

South Carolina Innocence Initiative hosts many events throughout each semester, usually having one big event per semester. These events included a movie screening followed by a panel discussion this past semester and a convention this upcoming semester.

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Other events that the organization plans include panel discussions, talks from guest speakers and presentations on research students have done about people who have been wrongfully convicted.

Many of those who are on the panels and who are guest speakers are lawyers, judges, advocates and victims of crimes. The organization is also hoping to get an exoneree to be a guest speaker at some point in the future.

The organization also hosts meetings with members of innocence projects from other states. Currently, South Carolina does not have an innocence project, though it is a deep-seated issue in the state.

An event that Emon was most excited about this past semester was a Christmas card writing event the club had planned where students were able to write cards to wrongfully convicted individuals who are still in prison.

Emon’s favorite part about being president of the South Carolina Innocence Initiative is having the opportunity to help educate other students, as well as faculty and staff, on the issue of wrongful convictions.

South Carolina Innocence Initiative was started by psychology professor Dawn McQuiston, who serves as a pre-law advisor. She  started the organization to shed light on the very real problem of wrongful convictions in the state of South Carolina.

“I think Wofford College is the perfect place to start an organization like this,” McQuiston said, “It’s such a worthwhile social cause.”

McQuiston highlighted how much support there is on campus for new clubs and organizations and how students do not have to be oriented in the world of law or psychology to participate in the organization’s events.

“(Wofford College) is really excited about what we’re doing,” McQuiston stated. “People are really interested.” 

She also pointed out that there is no other organization like the South Carolina Innocence Initiative at other schools at the undergraduate level.

McQuiston also called attention to how the support of President Nayef Samhat has helped the South Carolina Innocence Initiative be created and thrive on campus.

“As I talk about (South Carolina Innocence Initiative), all this stuff wouldn’t be possible without the support of President Samhat,” McQuiston stated.

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About the Contributors
Abigail Taylor, Contributing Writer
Freshman from New York City, NY
Caroline Parker, Visual Media Editor
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