Note: The study of wrongful convictions of women has still not been widely researched. The following are some ideas which I have been ruminating. Criminal justice researchers often look for "causes" of wrongful convictions. In regard to women, my own research shows that beyond causes, police and prosecutors have specific "motives" for locking away innocents and accomplices. Please feel free to criticize or contribute to the information below. We have a lot of work ahead of us in freeing women from prison. ~~~ Michael.


PART 1: MOTIVES (Mostly Unique to Women)

PART 2: CAUSES (Common to Men).



Motive 1: Women killers foment media attention and advance law enforcement careers. 

Men who murder are conventional, women are sensational. The media love the femme fatale. Police and prosecutors get their faces on television, their names in the news. Sensational cases propel careers. With the advent of t.v. trials, women murderers are in demand. The present trial of Jody Arias in Arizona is a splendid example.


Motive 2: Women who associate with bad men, whether incidentally or tangentially, are inherently evil.

" If you run with the wolves, you are guilty of the kill."
(Police detective quoted on "American Justice")

GBA maybe the leading motive in the wrongful conviction of women. WCJN notes many different kinds of "guilt by association." Please see WCJN's Guilt by Association Page.

Currently incarcerated.
Freed. 8 cases (Japan and USA)
Executed (2 cases)

Specific types of guilt by association

  • Lisl Auman (CO-paroled)-sentenced to life imprisonment. Lisl was handcuffed and in custody in a police car when an acquaintance shot an officer, and then himself.
  • Sunny Jacobs (FL-paroled)-sentenced to death. Sonya was in the backseat of an automobile when a police officer was shot from the front. She was sentenced to death.

  • Faye Brown (NC-semi paroled)-sentenced to death. Faye participated in a robbery in which an officer was shot. All three defendants were sentenced to death.

2) Nurses who associate with deceased drug abusers and get sentenced for murder

3) Exotic dancers = criminals

  • Rosal Villanueva (Japan)

4) Companions of drug traffickers are assumed to be criminals as well.


"When Prosecutors Play God."

Law enforcement authorities bestow sanctimonious importance upon the social role of "mother." Good mothers do not let their children die unnaturally. Furthermore, good mothers marry before giving birth. Those who give birth outside normally prescribed roles are a stain upon society. Prosecutors, as representatives of a higher source, seek to enforce cleanliness of the social order. Social misfits must be isolated to avoid contamination of the healthy organism.

Motive 3: To punish mothers whose children die.

Good mothers do not let their children die. Mothers of children who die unnaturally are culpable, at least through negligence or complicity. Even mothers whose children are killed should be charged with murder.

Sample Cases: WCJN has a list of 13 cases from the USA and Japan of mothers wrongfully convicted of filicide (child murder).
See the list.

Motive 4: To denigrate and ostracize the "unfit mother."

Such women are prone to crime, and should be held as willing and culpable for all crimes committed by male companions, even acquaintances.

Sample Cases:

Karlyn Eklof (OR)   Tammy Traxtle (OR)  Tabitha Pollock (IL)   Teresa Deion Harris (TN) 
Choctaw Three (AL)  Marion Faye Cason (Fl)   




Motive 5: Prosecutorial Gymnastics: "If I can prove it, it means she did it."

In the USA, too many prosecutors do not seek the truth, but conviction at all costs. The courtroom is an arena, and the winner takes it all. Truth is irrelevant, the ends justify the means. "If I can win it, she definitely did it." In a world with far fewer female suspects, and the resulting media frenzy when one surfaces, women are the ultimate prize. To bag a doe is the ultimate trophy.

"Anybody can convict a guilty person, it takes a great prosecutor to convict an innocent one." We have the office of the Dallas District Attorney to thank for this frightening indictment of the American criminal justice system.

Sample Cases: this phenomena is prevalent in so many cases but a couple to note:

Hannah Overton: wrongly convicted of murdering a child who died from salt poisoning.
The prosecutor later stated: "If she's innocent, it only proves what a great prosecutor I am."



Motive 6: Protect the male perpetraitor.

Perhaps the greatest miscarriage of justice are innocent women who are sacrificed to protect the male criminal. This category includes women tangentially connected to the crime in which the main perpetrator is set free.The forces of law and order are notorious for protecting male criminals and offering up a female sacrifice. Does offer a juicier, richer aroma to the public

Lynn Dejac (NY) Perpetrator was boyfriend.
Rosal Villanueva (Japan) Perpetrator was husband.
Mina Ohkoshi (Japan) Perpetrator was connected to police.
Judy Henderson (MO) Perpetrator received lesser/mild sentence.
Julie Rea (IL) Police officer husband was probably culpable.
Laurie Bembenek (WI) Police officer husband was probably culpable.
Darlene Routier (TX) Husband likely conspired with real killer.
Kirsten Blaise Lobato (NV) Perpetrator(s) were gang members/police informants. Decedent was found with semen in his rectum.
Helen Reasonover (MO) Perpetrator was probably a police informant.

Motive 7: To Close the Cold Case

Rebecca Price-Swope (Maryland) Charged with fraud 4 years after the incident.

Patricia Wright (California) Charged with murder of her husband 17 years after the incident.

Beth Labatte (WI): Charged with double murder 5 years after the incident.



Motive 8 : Subjugate the haughty who sue law and order.

WCJN lists four women who sued police, two in the USA, two in Japan. All were vengefully arrested.

Motive 9 : Eugenic control of criminal woman and unfit mothers.

Women who associate with criminals, and unfit mothers should forfeit the right to give birth. Incarceration (usually) guarantees their wombs will be sealed. Mostly directed at women of color.

Shawnte Jones (AZ)
Tabitha Pollock (IL)
Carrie Noe (OR)
Sabrina Butler (MS)
Marion Faye Cason (FL)


Xenophobia ( fear of the outsider), and misogyny, ( fear and loathing against women) are a powerful aphrodisiac in the hands of law and order. Probably less a cause in the USA than other countries, it is a potent force in Asian cultures, especially when the victim is white.

Motive 10: To denigrate the foreign female:

Amanda Knox (American woman framed in Italy)
Schapelle Corby (Australian woman framed in Bali)
Rosal Villanueva (Philippine woman framed in Japan)

Motive 11: To protect the tribe.

Keiko Aoki (Japan) In a relationship with a Korean man.
Betty Wilson (Alabama) In a relationship with a black man.
Hideko Kaneko (Japan) In a relationship with a Korean man. (Died by suicide: 19??)



Fire survivors charged with arson.

This is one category which is not overly directed at women, but still salient in many ways. Most do not fit under the stereotype of "good girls."

Keiko Aoki (Japan)
Kristine Bunch (Indiana)
Letitia Denise Smallwood (Pennsylvania)
Tracey Shaw (Pennsylvania)

Prosecutorial Lombardiology

If first we don't succeed, we will get you later. Women who were found innocent, retried, and found guilty

Patricia Wright (California)
Etsuko Yamada (Japan)
Crystal Weimar (Pennsylvania)
Gloria Killian (CA)

Sibling Rivalry.

Debra Milke: testimony of her sister aided the prosecution.
Patricia Wright: testimony of her brother, charged with sex crimes, aided the prosecution.

Eyewitness Misidentification.

According to the Innocence Project, eyewitness misidentification is the leading cause of wrongful convictions. WCJN has only recorded one case in which this was a salient factor: namely, Joyce Ann Brown. Racial prejudice certainly played as strong a part in the conviction.