As you may be aware, one of the courses I teach at the law school is on defending battered women on trial for this. These are some of the reasons that it's not often that the women themselves provide the evidence. Most of the innocence projects and the conviction review groups only go on factual innocence. These are not women whose cases are easy to review, because of the manner in which we've developed review mechanisms around the way men have usually been convicted. So I would say that in my opinion and the opinion of many of those not just in my organization but in other groups, these are individuals who probably should not have been convicted of first degree murder. They were, and some of them didn't even pursue appeals; some did. This is a mechanism that in some respects one could see as an attempt after the fact to work through the system.
It's also important to note that we're now at the point that 20% of prisoners are lifers. When these provisions were brought in, they were strongly supported by corrections people, by prison guards' unions because of the view that we should create some hope amongst individuals, not just to induce them into programs—in fact, I would argue that's the last reason we should—but to induce them to their own humanity, to deal with the issues they need to deal with to move on and re-enter society. With all of the mechanisms that are in place now, we're seeing increased numbers of lifers. As a matter of principle, what are we going to do when we get to 50% who are lifers? What are we going to do when we get higher?
Going back to the question of Mr. Murphy, if part of our issue is the principles of sentencing and if we're choosing to go in a completely opposite direction from most other parts of the world and have longer and longer sentences and more people in, at what human and social costs as well as what fiscal costs will we be doing so? I think that out of all the resources we're talking about spending on this, in all kinds of ways I would much rather see considerably more of them, if we're talking about victims' issues, put into supporting victims earlier in the process.