Healing Justice, a nonprofit organization founded in Chapel Hill and now headquartered in Washington, D.C., works to promote healing and recovery for those harmed by wrongful convictions. The organization provides direct support services like counseling, and it offers retreats to bring together those affected by wrongful convictions to address their harm and grief.
The organization’s president and founder Jennifer Thompson is a survivor of a crime that resulted in a wrongful conviction, she discusses her story in her book, "Picking Cotton: Our Memoir of Injustice and Redemption." After years of advocating for victims of wrongful convictions, Thompson founded Healing Justice in 2015 to address the needs of those harmed by failures of the criminal justice system.
The cornerstone program of the organization is the Healing Justice Retreats, which are held several times per year at the Roslyn Retreat Center in Richmond, Va. The retreats focus on unpacking the harm done by a wrongful conviction through art projects, reflections and community-building exercises designed to foster a sense of community and collective resilience among attendees.
Thompson said the retreats are successful because they are led and facilitated by members of the organization who have been personally affected by wrongful convictions.
“What’s unique about us is that everything we do, all of our projects and all of our programs, are led by people with lived experiences," she said. "Unless you’ve lived what we’ve lived through, you really can’t understand what we need."