UNCW Hosts an Evening with Author Kim Cook

Life After Death Row: Exonerees’ Search for Community and Identity, by Kimberly J. Cook co-authored by Saundra D. Westervelt

Friday, March 22, 2013

Students, faculty and community members are invited to attend a lecture with Kim Cook, Ph.D., UNCW department chair of sociology and criminology, and featured guest Sabrina Butler, the only woman exonerated from death row, on April 3. The lecture will be held from 7-9 p.m. in Lumina Theatre and will be followed by a book-signing and reception in the Clock Tower Lounge. Proceeds from event’s book sales will be donated to two non-profit organizations that assist the wrongly convicted.

The evening is in honor of Cook’s recently released title, Life After Death Row: Exonerees’ Search for Community and Identity. Co-authored by Saundra D. Westervelt, an associate professor of sociology at the University of North Carolina Greensboro, the book chronicles the lives of eighteen exonerees and their post-incarceration struggles after being wrongly convicted.

Exoneree Sabrina Butler, whose story is featured in Life After Death Row, will be in attendance to speak about her experience. Released in 1995, she was imprisoned for almost six years, including two years and nine months on death row. To date, Butler is the first and only woman in the United States exonerated from death row. Butler is also a member of Witness to Innocence, an organization that provides support to death row survivors and their loved ones as they respond to the challenges and opportunities of life after exoneration. 

“Having lost her infant son and then wrongly convicted of capital murder in his death, Sabrina’s story exposes many tragic flaws in our justice system and in the communities where the wrongly convicted return after being exonerated,” says Cook. “Like many other exonerated death row survivors, Sabrina bravely tells her story in order to help promote justice for the wrongly convicted.”

Cook joined UNCW in 2005 from the University of Southern Maine, where she chaired the Criminology Department. Her first book was titled Divided Passions: Public Opinions on Abortion and Death Penalty and she frequently contributes to various publications and academic journals. Cook holds a Ph.D. in sociology with specialization in criminology, family, and social policy from the University of New Hampshire.

UNCW’s Women’s Studies and Resource Center is partnering with the UNCW Chancellor’s Office, Department of Sociology and Criminology, and Upperman African American Center to host the event, which is open to the public and free of charge. Guests will be able to purchase books onsite.