Valena Beety, AB ’02, JD ’06: Helping the Wrongly Convicted with Her Law School Network

Valena Beety

Valena Beety, AB ’02, JD ’06

Two books out this year from Valena Beety, AB ’02, JD ’06, reflect the commitments that have guided her career for the last 13 years. She’s the author of Manifesting Justice: Wrongly Convicted Women Reclaim Their Rights, and the coeditor of The Wrongful Convictions Reader. Now deputy director of the Academy for Justice at Arizona State University’s Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law, she was a staff attorney at the Mississippi Innocence Project and the founding director of the West Virginia Innocence Project.

Joining the first of those projects, in Mississippi, marked a big career turn for her. “I came to the Law School knowing that I wanted to be a prosecutor,” she said. “I had served as an advocate for rape victims as an undergraduate, and I saw how violence impacts survivors. I thought prison was the answer, and that I could be a protector.”

When she joined the US Attorney’s office in the District of Columbia in 2008, it wasn’t like she had thought it would be. “I saw how often prosecutions failed to help victims, and how frequently they relied on false information, dishonest forensics, and police misconduct,” she recalled.

She left for Mississippi the next year to be a protector of a different kind, working at the innocence project there for almost three years before she was hired to create and direct the West Virginia Innocence Project at the West Virginia University College of Law. During her seven years there, she built a strong connection with UChicago Law, bringing on four graduates to work on the project through the Justice Franklin D. Cleckley Fellowship. “I feel so gratified by the work those graduates have done after their fellowships,” she said. “Two

Read the rest Continue Reading