Criminology and Criminal Justice honors student Rhiannon Little says she’s “particularly passionate” about the topic of wrongful convictions.
After delving into research on racial disparities in wrongful convictions for the CCJS honors program, Little organized a CCJS and Student Government Association co-sponsored event featuring Professor Erica J. Suter, director of the Innocence Project Clinic. The Innocence Project Clinic is a collaboration between the Maryland Office of the Public Defender and the University of Baltimore School of Law.
Professor Suter currently represents Adnan Syed, a man from Baltimore, MD who was convicted of murder but then exonerated after 23 years incarcerated. However, his conviction was reinstated because of lack of notice for the victim’s family.
Suter’s visit to campus included a lecture and a Q&A with free Maryland Dairy ice cream for attendees. Little noted that the event was particularly memorable in that Professor Suter’s family came to support her, and that students stayed after the lecture and discussion to chat with Suter and take pictures with her.
“Events like this are so important for UMD students to become more engaged and informed stewards of our community,” Little said. “Especially when a case like this happens not too far from campus, it’s really important for students to know what’s going on and what we can do about it.”
Little estimates that the event drew an audience of at least 150 people.
“It definitely took a lot of planning in advance and coordination, but it was definitely worth it,” she said.
As she approaches her third year in the undergraduate program, Little looks to the future and plans to go to law school. Given her interest in wrongful convictions, she’s particularly looking for schools that have their own Innocence Project clinics.
“I have absolutely loved everything about being a CCJS major at UMD,” she said. “The professors, courses, and community are all so amazing…I cannot recommend the Department of CCJS and the CCJS Honors Program enough.”