In 1982 my cousin, Debbie Carter, was murdered in our small town of Ada, Oklahoma.
After two men were wrongfully convicted of her murder I became an advocate for victims of crime and criminal justice reform.
I have participated in documentaries, including the Netflix series, The Innocent Man
I have traveled across the country speaking on the national and state level in an effort to bring awareness and effect change in our broken criminal justice system.
National Institute of Justice
International Association of Chiefs of Police
Office of Victims of Crime
The Innocence Project
I was a member of the Oklahoma Death Penalty Review Commission; studying all aspects of the Oklahoma criminal justice system and the ultimate punishment.
Currently, I am a member of the advisory board for the non profit Healing Justice Project. A group that is focused on restoring those affected by wrongful convictions, founded by rape survivor Jennifer Thompson, author of "Picking Cotton".
I've written op eds in regard to justice reform, most recently co- writing one with John Grisham.
“Christy Sheppard has turned her fierce intelligence and natural curiosity into a relentless pursuit of truth and justice. Christy’s cousin, Debbie Sue Carter, was brutally murdered in the 1980’s and two men were wrongfully convicted for these crimes–one was sentenced to die. Rather than descend into bitterness, Sheppard became a fierce advocate: for the wrongfully convicted, for families like her own, and for a more fair justice system. She has spoke about her cousin’s case at forums across the country, and was named to Oklahoma’s Blue Ribbon Commission to study the death penalty. After Debbie’s case became a national sensation following John Grisham’s account in An Innocent Man and continues to remain in the news as the subject of a forthcoming Netflix series, Sheppard decided it was time to tell her family’s side of the story in a first person account that promises to be equal parts revealing and fascinating.” Lara Bazelon- Professor at San Francisco Law School, Author of ‘Rectify’, Contributing writer for Slate and Politico Magazines
“I first met Christy Sheppard when I was launching the Innocence Project’s nationwide policy reform efforts. It was regular people like Christy- and John Thompson, Jennifer Thompson (no direct relation) Betty Ann Waters, Fernando Bermudez, Katie Monroe, and more – whose work and stories compelled “the Innocence Movement” like no others.
They are the people whose lives were forever impacted by the system of criminal justice in America – who then took it upon themselves to change that system. It is often not pretty. It often fails – but sometimes it doesn’t. You keep reflecting, you keep inquiring, and you keep trying. The decades of devastation experienced in the wake of a rape and/or murder compounded by the wrongful conviction of an innocent person are experiences that everyone agrees must be avoided – yet which few understand, or even consider.
This has been Christy Sheppard’s struggle. We have explored her story, her experiences, and the lessons she’s taken away from courtrooms, legislatures, prisons, Oklahoma backyard TV stations, Washington D.C., and across the county, and I’ve loved every minute of hearing her tell its and exploring it with her. If you’ve read this far, I have a good feeling that you’re going to really enjoy this book.” Stephen Saloom – Innocence Project Policy Director (2004-2014)