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Circle: How a Veteran Cop was Sentenced to Life for Crimes That Never
by Sheila Martin Berry and Doug Berry
"Full Circle presents a compelling case of former police officer John Maloney's innocence in the death of his troubled estranged wife. It is also a shocking indictment of the Wisconsin court system that the evidence the authors expose in great detail has never been fully and fairly considered." - Martin Yant, publisher, editor, investigator and author of Presumed Guilty
Click HERE for more information about the case and the book
|The Corruption of Innocence: A Journey for
by Lori St. John
“This amazing story of a woman’s valiant attempts to save an innocent man from execution
might seem like a hyped-up, overwrought suspense novel. But everything told in these pages actually happened. Fasten your seat belt. It’s going to take you for quite a ride.”
— Sister Helen Prejean, csj, Author of Dead Man Walking
“I really can’t remember another story like this. I mean Joe O’Dell got a standing ovation in the Italian Parliament…the last time that happened was when we won the World Cup in 1982.”
—Vittorio Zucconi, la Repubblica, one of Italy's largest circulating newspapers.
Click the cover to visit the website!
Evidence: Why Law Enforcement Resists Science
by David A. Harris
David A. Harris is Distinguished Faculty Scholar and Professor of Law at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law. He is also Associate Dean for Research, and teaches Criminal Procedure, Criminal Law, Evidence, and courses on criminal justice policy and homeland security issues. Harris studies and writes about the criminal justice system and police behavior, particularly racial profiling, search and seizure, police accountability, and the Fourth, Fifth and Sixth Amendments to the U.S. Constitution. He is the leading national authority on racial profiling; his 2002 book, Profiles in Injustice: Why Racial Profiling Cannot Work (New Press), and his many published scholarly articles on profiling, jump started the national debate on the issue. His 2005 book, Good Cops: The Case for Preventive Policing (New Press), showcased police work around the U.S. that relies on prevention to control crime and protect citizens' civil rights. He has testified on racial profiling, immigration enforcement, and other criminal justice issues numerous times in Congress. He lives in Pittsburgh with his family.
Click HERE to read Prof. Keith Findley's review (pdf format, use Acrobat Reader).
Wilderness of Error by Errol Morris
You probably remember the Jeffrey MacDonald story. He’s the Green Beret doctor, a Princeton graduate, who was convicted of the hideous 1970 murders of his pregnant wife and their two young daughters. Mr. MacDonald said the killings were the work of drug-addled hippies; he was badly wounded in the attack. The MacDonald case continues to be rehashed in books and blogs. Mr. MacDonald is still in prison, more than 40 years later. He still proclaims his innocence. He’s still filing appeals. “A Wilderness of Error” upends nearly everything you think you know about these killings and their aftermath. Click HERE for the NY Times review of this "must read" book.
Click on the book to visit questforjusticethebook.com
by Scott Bartz
Did you ever find it a little strange that the Unabomber, Ted Kaczyninski, was a suspect in the Tylenol murders of 1982? Or did you wonder how a person, such as extortionist James Lewis, could be a suspect for so long without conviction or exoneration after 29 years? Are you wary of Big Pharma’s concern for its own financial well-being over the well-being of individuals’ health? Did you ever wonder why there were only seven victims? Or wonder if there were more victims? Then you must read this book!
by David L. Strauss
Barbarous Souls is rekindling efforts to win a complete exoneration for a man convicted of killing his wife 55 years ago at their isolated residence in Lincoln, Nebraska.
Darrel Parker, now 79, has steadfastly maintained that he was coerced — through threats and exhaustive interrogation — into confessing to a crime he didn't commit.
The real murderer, Parker and many others say, was a Nebraska death-row inmate, Wesley Peery.
Click HERE for review and more information about this case.
by John Grisham
In "The Confession," Grisham structures a story to illuminate one way a death-penalty conviction can go wrong. The novel is set mainly in the fictitious city of Slone, Texas, near Texarkana, for a reason. Texas is known as an execution-happy state. The East Texas setting lends itself to the novel's racial discrimination theme.
"When Texas wants to kill somebody, they're gonna do it. Got another planned later this month. It's an assembly line around here, can't nobody stop it," Grisham's wrongly convicted character tells his mother shortly before the execution date. "They don't care about guilt or innocence, Momma, all they care about is showing the world how tough they are. Texas don't fool around. Don't mess with Texas. Ever heard that?"
review from the San Antonio News-Express
Inferences: A true story about a wrongful conviction and its
by Michael Griesbach
"Unreasonable Inferences is about tragedy, but it's also about hope. I survived my own personal nightmare when I was attacked on the beach that day only to learn years later that I unwittingly played a role in someone else's. The ripple effect of this single injustice has lasted for decades, with devastating consequences for other victims and their families. We can't un-ring the bell of an injustice, we can't right the wrong, but we must joust with humility and learn from our mistakes – because to do anything less would be unforgivable." - Penny Beerntsen, Victim
Click HERE for review and more information about this case.
Innocence: A Mother's Photographs, a Prosecutor's Zeal and
a Small Town's Response, by Lynn Powell
Ten years ago, amateur photographer and school bus driver Cynthia Stewart dropped off eleven rolls of film at a drugstore near her home in Ohio. The rolls contained photographs of her eight-year-old daughter Nora, including two of the child in the shower—photos that would cause the county prosecutor to arrest Cynthia, take her away in handcuffs, threaten to remove her daughter from her home, and charge her with crimes that carried the possibility of sixteen years in prison.
Framing Innocence brilliantly probes the many questions raised: when does a photograph of a naked child “cross the line” from innocent snapshot to child porn? What makes a photograph dangerous—the situation in which it is shot or the uses to which it might be put? When does the parent, and when does the state, know best?
|Click HERE for
review and more information about this case.
|The Skeptical Juror and the Trial of Byron
by J. Bennett Allen
A young woman is brutally murdered, shot in the face at point blank range. Her boyfriend is found dead two days later, a suicide by shotgun. The case goes nowhere for three years until, from the depths alcohol and drug addiction, a friend changes her story. Her ex-boyfriend stands accused of murder. Four teenage lives are shattered.
Only after your decision is irrevocable will you learn what really happened. Welcome to the world of The Skeptical Juror.
Is Byron Case guilty, or innocent? You decide.
Click HERE for a "real-life reader" review.
|The Skeptical Juror and the Trial of Cory
by J. Bennett Allen
Police officer Ron Jones had worked hard to solve both the drug and race problems of Prentiss, Mississippi. He had earned the respect of those he served and protected, regardless of skin color. Now, in the waning hours of the first day after Christmas 2001, Ron is prepared to lead his motley team of officers into a darkened duplex to serve yet another search warrant for drugs. As the rear door is breached, Ron is the first to enter. "I'm hit," he says, making his way back down the steps. The bullet has punctured his aorta. He will bleed to death within minutes. Another drug raid gone wrong. Another police officer killed. Another citizen facing the death penalty. Join the fictional jury and form your own opinion. Become a Skeptical Juror in The Trial of Cory Maye.
Click HERE for a "real-life reader" review.
|The Skeptical Juror and the Trial of
Cameron Todd Willingham
by J. Bennett Allen
Cameron Todd Willingham refused to walk to his own execution. He was innocent, he insisted, and so the guards on the Texas Death Row carried him to his death. He died for the crime of arson, for killing his own three young children in the flames. The Skeptical Juror examines the crime and the trial through transcripts and court documents, and presents a fictionalized view into what a jury deliberation in such a sensational crime might have been like. Then, in the aftermath section, an examination of new discoveries in arson-investigation science show that Willingham may have been innocent. He may be the first conclusively demonstrated innocent person to be executed in America.
Felonies a Day
by Harvey Silvergate
Harvey Silverglate’s Three Felonies A Day focuses on how federal prosecutors invent creative interpretations of statutes, sometimes creating new felonies out of vague language or thin air, felonies never legislated by Congress. Federal criminal law is today so vast and so poorly worded that Silverglate reports, truthfully, each of us, every American, commits three felonies every day without knowing it. A respected Boston civil liberties lawyer, Mr. Silverglate shows his readers why federal prosecutors target innocent people (career enhancement) and how they do it (dispensing with the need to show criminal intent in order to commit a crime). The careers of Rudy Giuliani, William Weld and Michael J. Sullivan were built on the backs of innocent defendants.
Click HERE for L. Gordon Crovitz's review, published in the Wall Street Journal.
by Denis Gullickson and John Gaie
On November 21, 1992, Thomas Monfils, an employee at the James River paper mill in Green Bay, Wisconsin, disappeared. After an intensive search, his body was found the next evening, submerged in a pulp vat. The police called it murder. In 1995, six of Monfils' coworkers were wrongfully convicted of his death, the result of a preordained theory and a reckless prosecution.
Highly detailed and meticulously researched, The Monfils Conspiracy reveals the true story of a botched case that landed six innocent men in prison. Through extensive interviews, court documents, police reports, and other documentation, Denis Gullickson and John Gaie present a powerful look at the troubling events surrounding the death of Thomas Monfils and the mistake-riddled investigation that followed.
Fifteen years after Monfils' death and a dozen years after his coworkers' convictions, The Monfils Conspiracy shatters the myths surrounding this case and opens the door to justice-and the truth.
more information about the book, the defendants and the botched police
investigation, click HERE.
Click HERE to read the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals decision exonerating defendant Michael Piaskowski.
NOTE: Phillip Finch's landmark book, Fatal Flaw: A True
Story of Malice and Murder in a Small Southern Town,
is once again available. Fatal
Flaw can be purchased in printed copy or may be downloaded free
of charge from the website of the publisher, Libertary.com. Click
by Michale Callahan
In 2000, Michale Callahan was the newly promoted Investigations Commander over a nine county area in East Central Illinois. His first assignment, to review the fourteen-year-old murder of a young, newlywed couple, Dyke and Karen Rhoads, would change his life forever, shattering his faith in the department he had loved and had dedicated his life to.
This true story is about his fight to search for the real killers and help free Randy Steidl and Herb Whitlock, the two innocent men he learned were railroaded into prison. Callahan’s fight continued with his personal battle against a corrupt and powerful state that was more interested in covering up the scandal and silencing its employees than seeking justice.
Click HERE to visit the book website.
Cotton: Our Memoir of Injustice and Redemption
by Jennifer Thompson-Cannino and Ronald Cotton, with Erin Torneo
“This book will break your heart and lift it up again...a touching and beautiful example of the power of faith and forgiveness. Its message of hope should reverberate far beyond the halls of justice.”--Sr. Helen Prejean, csj, author of Dead Man Walking
“What happened in this book will change what you think of the criminal justice system in this country, and challenge you to help fix it. Each of them tells an extraordinary story about crime, punishment and exoneration, but it’s their shared spiritual journey toward reconciliation and forgiveness that is even more compelling and profound.” --Barry C. Scheck, Co-Founder and Co-Director of The Innocence Project
Read Frontline's detailed coverage of the Cotton case: What Jennifer Saw.
|In Spite of the System: A
Personal Story of Wrongful Conviction and Exoneration
By Gary Gauger and Julie Von Bergen
Some people say Gary Gauger got out because the system worked.
He says it happened In Spite of the System
Click HERE to buy the book. Click HERE for contemporary news coverage of this case.
|A Criminal Injustice
by Richard Firstman and Jay Salpeter
In 1988, Arlene Tankleff was slashed across the throat and bludgeoned to death, and her husband, Seymour, was mortally wounded in the middle of the night in their affluent Long Island home. Their son, Martin, 17, confessed, then recanted. But Marty insisted the confession was fabricated by the police, and that the man who arranged the murders of his parents was Jerry Steuerman, his father’s business partner. Steuerman owed Seymour Tankleff over half a million dollars. A week later, Steuerman faked his own death and fled to California under an alias. Yet the police and prosecutors remained fixated on Marty,and two years later, he was convicted on murder charges n a highly publicized trial that was featured on Court TV and sentenced to fifty years in prison. Marty’s conviction, based on ignored leads, conflicts of interest swept under the rug and a shocking betrayal of public trust by Suffolk County law enforcement, was finally overturned in 2007. (Click HERE for contemporary news coverage of Marty's exoneration.)
|The Wrong Guys
by Tom Wells and Richard Leo
Innocent people do not confess. Especially to rape and murder.
That is the belief of most people, including jurors, judges, attorneys, and even the very police detectives who induce false confessions. The Norfolk Four case is the perfect vehicle to challenge our misguided faith. And Tom Wells and Richard Leo are the ideal storytellers: Wells followed the case for seven years; Leo is a leading expert on the social psychology of police interrogation. The book is meticulously researched, through primary source documents and dozens of interviews. The Wrong Guys: Murder, False Confessions, and the Norfolk Four reads like a Stephen King novel but provides a step-by-step deconstruction of the bizarre case of the Norfolk Four, explaining the individual, situational, and systemic factors that converge in a typical false confession case.
|Police Interrogation and
by Richard Leo
Incriminating statements are necessary to solve crimes, but suspects almost never have reason to provide them. Therefore, crime units have developed sophisticated interrogation methods that rely on persuasion, manipulation, and deception to move a subject from denial to admission, serving to shore up the case against him. Ostensibly aimed at uncovering truth, the structure of interrogation requires that officers act as an arm of the prosecution. Skillful and fair interrogation allows authorities to capture criminals and deter future crime. But Leo draws on extensive research to argue that confessions are inherently suspect and that coercive interrogation has led to false confession and wrongful conviction. He looks at police evidence in the court, the nature and disappearance of the brutal "third degree," the reforms of the mid-twentieth century, and how police can persuade suspects to waive their Miranda rights.
|Snitch: Informants, Cooperators
and the Corruption of Justice
by Ethan Brown
A chilling investigative look behind the scenes at a criminal justice system corrupted by its use of cooperators, and into the complex meaning of the "Stop Snitching" movement.
In Snitch, investigative reporter Ethan Brown shows through a compelling series of case profiles how the sentencing guidelines for drug-related offenses, along with the 5K1.1 section, have unintentionally created a "cottage industry of cooperators," and led to fabricated evidence. The result is wrongful convictions and appallingly gruesome crimes committed by the snitches who are turned loose for their "cooperation."
Click HERE for Steve Weinberg's review of this book.
|15,543 and Counting
By D. L. Carcara
On September 2, 1983, Jimmy Lee Gray died smashing his head into a metal pole located behind his head as a result of being strapped to a chair and forced to inhale a deadly mixture of sulfuric acid and hydrogen cyanide. On May 4, 1990, Jesse Tafero, at the time living and breathing, died after being set on fire while completely incapacitated being bound to a chair. These instances sound much like the works of a sadistic serial killer torturing his victims, but they are in reality the works of State Departments of Corrections here in America. These documented cases as well as many more wrongs involving the administration of capital punishment in the United States are found in 15,543 and Counting. Each and every step, from the very beginning of the guilt trial to the very end of the cooling of the corpse, is addressed and accounted for in 15,543 and Counting. Among the countless informative sources are testimonies of corrections officers assigned to the care and custody of death row inmates, as well as actual quotes from death row inmates themselves.
The Chaparral Murders: Dollar Store Justice
by Margaret Stoddart
The Chaparral Murders re-examines the 1982 deaths of Glenn Roberts and his son, Timmy, in Parsons, WV, and the subsequent conviction of Rusty Phillips in Timmy Roberts' death.
Stoddart is the stepdaughter of Edith Roberts, the mother of Timmy and the widow of Glenn. Given that relationship, the author reaches conclusions that might not be expected, questioning whether Rusty Phillips had any role in Timmy Roberts' death, and whether Timmy's death was a homicide in the first place.
Click HERE to read Norm Goldman's review in American Chronicle.
|Until Proven Innocent: Political
Correctness and the Shameful Injustices of the Duke Lacrosse Rape Case
by Stuart Taylor and K.C. Johnson
“Brutally honest, unflinching, exhaustively researched, and compulsively readable, Until Proven Innocent excoriates those who led the stampede—the prosecutor, the cops, the media—but it also exposes the cowardice of Duke’s administration and faculty. Until Proven Innocent smothers any lingering doubts that in this country the presumption of innocence is dead, dead, dead.”
“In what surely is this year’s most revealing, scalding and disturbing book on America’s civic culture, the authors demonstrate that the Duke case was symptomatic of the dangerous decay of important institutions—legal, academic, and journalistic. . . . With this meticulous report, the guilty have at last been indicted and convicted.”
—George F. Will
by Prof. Angela Davis
"This book is not simply timely. It is timeless. It chronicles the expansion of prosecutorial powers and, better yet, offers a compelling set of reforms that all can agree will help to curb unnecessary abuses of power. Public officials, law enforcement, and everyday citizens will all find this book informative and accessible. It is a must read, and a phenomenal read."
--Charles J. Ogletree Jr., Jesse Climenko Professor, Harvard Law School
"Finally, a book by a scholar that not only describes what's really going on in the trenches--a dangerous shift in power from judges to prosecutors in sentencing and charging decisions--but provides a sensible agenda of reforms that will protect victims and defendants alike. This is a very important work."
--Barry Scheck, Professor, Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law, and Co-Director, Innocence Project
|A Good Conviction
by Lew Weinstein
Imagine yourself in Sing Sing prison, convicted of a murder you did not commit. How do you survive? How do you keep hope alive that your life will ever again be anything but terror and pain? Then it gets worse: you begin to suspect that the Manhattan prosecutor who tried your case knew you were actually innocent.
A Good Conviction is fiction, but it is drawn from real-life cases that, we are learning, are all too common.
Click HERE to read a message from the author, Lew Weinstein.
Mistakes were Made (But Not by Me)
Why We Justify Foolish Beliefs, Bad Decisions, and Harmful Acts
by Carol Tavris and Elliot Aronson
Why was it so hard for our President to admit that there were no W.M.D.'s in Iraq or that Saddam had no links to Al Qaeda? Why is it so difficult for some prosecutors and police officers to accept the reality of a wrongful conviction? Answers to these and other questions can be found in a new book by eminent social psychologists Carol Tavris and Elliot Aronson. In Mistakes Were Made (But Not By Me): Why We Justify Foolish Beliefs, Bad Decisions, and Hurtful Acts, Tavris and Aronson explain that the reason why humans have so much difficulty in admitting error is our need for self-justification, an all too human tendency.
Click HERE to read Prof. Steve Drizin's entire review of this important book.
|No Smoke: The Shocking Truth About
British Justice by Sandra Lean
A life-long fascination with the workings of the human mind, and especially the workings of the "criminal mind," led Sandra Lean, at the age of 32, through the doors of Napier University in Edinburgh. A single parent of two young children, she studied Psychology and Sociology to Honours Degree level. A Masters' Degree in Forensic Psychology seemed like the most obvious next step, until a local, high-profile murder hit the headlines. Behind the scenes, Sandra Lean began sifting through the facts, only to discover that all was not as it seemed. What she found led her to other, similar cases, and more patient, methodical sifting, in an investigation that was to last almost four years. The result was a shocking, but true, discovery. Innocent people are being locked up in our prisons, convicted of the most horrific crimes, on a regular basis. These are not one-off, tragic mistakes, but rather, a routine, everyday occurrence. For every high-profile miscarriage of justice that we hear about, there are dozens more that never make the news. No Smoke examines just some of these cases, highlighting the very human tragedy of wrongful conviction, and pointing out the unthinkable: this could happen to any one of us.
Smoke is only available in the UK. But click HERE to read about
the case that led Sandra to write this book.
|Last Words from Death Row
by Norma Herrera
"I am innocent, innocent, innocent. I am an innocent man, and something very wrong is taking place tonight." -- Last words of Leonel Herrera before his execution.
When Herrera, convicted of killing two police officers, tried to present important and compelling evidence of his innocence, the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that innocence is not a basis for federal habeas corpus relief. Four months later, Herrera was put to death. His sister, Norma, has kept her promise to him, detailing the court events and press coverage of the ultimately fruitless effort to save Leonel from the legal system itself.
Click HERE for more information about this book.
|Until You Are Dead
by Julian Sher
Until You Are Dead chronicles the loss of Canada’s innocence. Prior to June 11, 1959, Canadian parents could allow their children to play outdoors, unsupervised, in places children traditionally love: schoolyards, fields and nearby swimming holes. But on that hot summer day, when the body of a twelve-year-old girl turned up in a woody area near Clinton, Ontario, that innocence was shattered. The girl’s name was Lynne Harper and she had been raped and murdered. The summer was barely over before a popular schoolboy named Steven Truscott, fourteen years old at the time, was tried, convicted and sentenced to hang. Truscott spent ten years in prison after the federal cabinet commuted his death sentence. He has always maintained his innocence. His trial in 1959 was the most famous and controversial in Canadian history. As a producer at CBC TV’s the fifth estate, Julian Sher spent two years investigating the Steven Truscott story for an explosive documentary.
Click HERE to visit the book website.
|The Innocent Man
by John Grisham
John Grisham tackles nonfiction for the first time with The Innocent Man, a true tale about murder and injustice in a small town. The Innocent Man chronicles the story of Ron Williamson, how he was arrested and charged with a crime he did not commit, how his case was (mis)handled and how an innocent man was sent to death row. Grisham's first work of nonfiction is shocking, disturbing, and enthralling--a must read for fiction and nonfiction fans.
Click HERE to read review by Steve Weinberg, author of Harmful Error.
|Journey Toward Justice
by Dennis Frtiz
Dennis Fritz, who, along with Ron Williamson, was convicted of a murder he did not commit, tells the rest of the story begun by John Grisham in The Innocent Man. Before his conviction, Dennis Fritz taught middle school science and coached football, basketball and track. Since his release, Dennis has been enjoying his freedom to the fullest. He is a spokesman for the Innocence Project at fundraising events and works first hand with inmates. He serves as a board member of the Coalition to Demolish the Death Penalty and Truth in Justice.
|The Dreams of Ada
by Robert Mayer
The true, bewildering case of Thomas Ward and Karl Fontenot, the story of a young woman’s disappearance, the nightmare of a small town obsessed with delivering justice, and the bizarre dream of a poor, uneducated man accused of murder—a case that chillingly parallels the one, occurring in the very same town, chronicled by John Grisham in The Innocent Man. Stunningly, the prosecution used the same snitch witness to obtain the convictions of Thomas Ward and Karl Fontenot it used to convict Ron Williamson and Dennis Fritz.
|Anything You Say
The True Story Of One Man's Ordeal With A Derailed Murder Investigation
by Christopher DiStefano
Studies suggest that approximately 10% of all people convicted of committing a crime are factually innocent. And 90% of those wrongfully convicted people pled guilty or no contest. Why did they plead to something they didn't do? This book can help you understand. It is the true story of a man imprisoned for 6-1/2 years for a brutal murder he did not commit on the basis of a false confession. The confession was ultimately thrown out as involuntary. The case ended with a nolo contendere plea to Involuntary Manslaughter and release on time served.
Click HERE to read the review by Steve Drizin, expert on false confessions and Director of the Center on Wrongful Convictions at Northwestern University School of Law.
A blind woman is raped, forced to recant her report, then charged with a crime.
by Bill Lueders
'In a textbook example of how not to investigate rape, Patty was disbelieved, humiliated, and treated like a criminal while promising leads were ignored. Her fight for justice is an important and inspiring story, as well as a warning that old ways of thought about women persist in surprising places. As full of twists and turns as a msytery novel, and as tightly written, Cry Rape lays bare the underside of one of our nation's most liberal and attractive cities."
--Katha Pollitt, columnist for The Nation
Learn more about this case, this book and the author at
|Death Row Defender
by Ray Dix (a writer who happens to be a lawyer)
It has been five years since Jon Clayton was convicted of the rape and execution style murder of Donella Nash. It is springtime in an election year and, as part of the Governor's war on crime, Jon Clayton is scheduled to be excuted in October. Clayton stills swears he is innocent, but had a record of violence and the bullet found in Nash's head came from his pistol. Woody Thomas, an ex-Public Defender, is appointed by the court to pursue Clayton's final appeal. Woody relives the trial through the transcripts, then locates and questions the witnesses. The case looks solid, but federal agents begin to follow him, local police try to frame him, and someone is trying to kill him. As Woody troubles mount, the murder case begins to fall apart and the Governor signs Clayton's death warrant - five months early.
For more information, visit www.raydixbooks.com
|Indefensible: One Lawyer's
into the Inferno of American Justice
by David Feige
Indefensible is David Feige's darkly funny and thrilling account of an ordinary day in the complicated life of a public defender in the South Bronx. In the span of a single day we meet murderers and misdemeanants, loutish lawyers, and vindictive judges. We race from courtroom to courtroom, judge to judge, and defendant to defendant, in a shocking behind-the-scenes look at big city justice as it really happens. This is a book full of black comedy and outrage, of unforgettable characters and situations. Written with the verve and insider know-how of a John Grisham thriller, but with the social conscience of a Barbara Ehrenreich, Indefensible has real crossover potential--and should ignite a profound debate about law and order in America. It puts a human face on the terrifying systemic failures that make American criminal justice the dirty little secret of our time.
Capital Punishment in America
by V. Wayne Sorge
This is a unique collection of observations with additional research about the ultimate punishment. For ten years, Wayne Sorge observed executions in Texas while working as news director of KSAM AM/FM in Huntsville. He was the official reporter representing United Press International to witness executions during that period of time. He also witnessed executions in Mississippi later and covered different aspects of the capital punishment debate earlier as he worked in Kansas. While in Huntsville, Wayne witnessed 183 lethal injections, including two women. He witnessed two men who were put to death in the state of Mississippi. During all that time, he has observed the debate of those who support or oppose the death penalty whether it be for political, religious or personal reasons, and he studied the concerns that prompted leaders in Illinois and elsewhere to challenge their system of capital punishment. Sorge covers the final moments of those on death row as well as background on cases and the impact of capital punishment on communities and individuals.
|Who Killed Sarah?
by Sheila Berry and Doug Berry
Sarah Gonstead disappeared in the early morning hours of March 15, 1994 in Madison, Wisconsin, after she and Penny Brummer had been out drinking together. The path she took led her directly to outlaw bikers, engaged in a turf war and recruiting new members. But when Sarah's body was found 40 days later, Brummer was the only suspect. Witnesses with valuable information were criticized, even humiliated. Leads that went anywhere else were ignored, as were the classic signs of innocence. No physical evidence tied Brummer to the crime; the murder weapon was never found. Brummer had an alibi -- she was at home 40 miles away when Sarah was killed. She had no criminal record and no history of violence. It was enough for the jury to convict Brummer and send her to prison for the rest of her life. But did she do it? Will DNA tests lead to the real killer? And has that killer continued to kill?
Click HERE for more information.
Justice: America's Wrongfully Convicted and Exonerated
by Dave Eggers and Lola Vollen
Beverly Monroe spent seven years in prison for murdering her companion of thirteen years; in fact, he had killed himself. Christopher Ochoa was persuaded to confess to a rape and murder he did not commit, and served twelve years of his life sentence before he was freed by DNA evidence. Michael Evans and Paul Terry each spent twenty-seven years in prison for a brutal rape and murder they did not commit. They were teenagers when they entered prison; they were middle-aged men when DNA proved their innocence.
The thirteen men and women portrayed here, and the hundreds of others who have been exonerated, are the tip of the iceberg. There are countless others—thousands by all estimates—who are in prison today for crimes they did not commit. These are the stories of some of the wrongfully convicted, who have managed, often by sheer luck, to prove their innocence. Their stories are spellbinding, heartbreaking, unimaginable, and ultimately inspiring. After reading these deeply personal accounts, you will never look at the criminal justice system the same way.
Collins' The Dead Alive : The Novel, the Case, and Wrongful Convictions
by Rob Warden
Wilkie Collins might well be the first author of a legal thriller. Here is the lawyer out of sorts with his profession; the legal process gone awry; even a touch of romance to soften the rigors of the law. And here, too, recast as fiction, is the United States' first documented wrongful conviction case. Side by side with the novel, this book presents the real-life legal thriller Collins used as his model-the story of two brothers, Jesse and Stephen Boorn, sentenced to death in Vermont in 1819 for the murder of their brother-in-law, and belatedly exonerated when their "victim" showed up alive and well in New Jersey in 1820. Rob Warden reconsiders the facts of the Boorn case for what they can tell us about the systemic flaws that produced this first known miscarriage of justice-flaws that continue to riddle our system of justice today.
Click HERE for Chicago Sun-Times review.
302: A year Behind the Scenes
in an American Criminal Courthouse
by Steve Bogira
Chicago-based journalist Bogira's first book is an outstanding journey inside the American criminal justice system that nicely complements last year's Blue Blood, Edward Conlon's inside look at the life of a big-city cop. Like that instant classic, this book—centered on the Cook County Criminal Courthouse, "the biggest and busiest felony courthouse in the nation"—punctures the popular myths engendered by TV shows like Law and Order to provide a balanced view of the realities of the day-to-day, assembly-line grind that marks so much of the process from arrest to final disposition. The author's ability to gain the trust of so many different participants in the grim drama—judges, public defenders, prosecutors, court officers, prison guards and many defendants—is remarkable, and he often comes close to presenting a more complete picture of the truth of a particular crime than emerge in court in the or in the few cases that actually go to trial. Despite this access, Bogira does not gild the people he describes; even Judge Daniel Locallo, the book's central figure—whose courtroom witnesses racial violence, pathetic thievery, the abused and the mentally incompetent, and who, on balance emerges positively—is portrayed warts and all. The brilliance of Bogira's insights will lead many to hope that he will follow this debut with proposals to cure the many ills he has diagnosed. - Publishers Weekly
What Happens When the Government Breaks Its Own Laws
by Andrew P. Napolitano
In this alarming book, Judge Napolitano makes the solid case that there is a pernicious and ever-expanding pattern of government abuse in America's criminal justice system, leading him to establish his general creed: "The government is not your friend." As an attorney, a law professor, a commentator, a judge, and now a successful television personality, Judge Napolitano has studied the system inside and out, and his unique voice has resonance and relevance. Whether in the big, headliner criminal cases or in the thousands of small-town trials no one ever hears about (but should), the police, the prosecutors, the politicians, the judges, and the machinery of government are inexorably grinding away at the individual liberties guaranteed to all Americans by the Constitution. But in this sensational new book, Napolitano sets the record straight, speaking frankly from his own experiences and careful, thorough investigation and revealing how government agencies will often arrest without warrant, spy without legal authority, imprison without charge, and kill without cause.
|On American Soil
by Jack Hamann
When TV journalist Hamann was covering the expansion of a sewage-treatment plant at Seattle’s Discovery Park some 18 years ago, a ranger told him of an odd headstone at the park, dated August 14, 1944, with an Italian inscription. The offhanded remark would lead Hamann to investigate an unsolved murder of Italian POW Guglielmo Olivotto at the park, which was then an Army base known as Fort Lawton. More than 10,000 military personnel were at the base at any given time during the war, including soldiers leaving for, or returning from, the Pacific; Italian prisoners of war captured by Allied troops in northern Africa; and a large contingent of segregated black soldiers who served primarily as porters to load and unload ships in the Pacific theater. The storyline that Hamann uncovers is compelling enough. But it is the crime's historical context—wartime racial dynamics, colossal Army incompetence, international political implications, and the (humane) treatment of POWs, for example—that makes the book so relevant now.
by James Doyle
Honest but mistaken eyewitnesses are the leading cause of wrongful convictions in the United States. As the innocent go to prison their lives are shattered; as the criminal goes free, the public remains vulnerable. With a vivid cast of brilliant scientists, street-wise cops, and former prosecutors--all haunted by the legacy of wrongful convictions, some directly involved with one--Doyle sheds light on the intersection of personal ambition, legal and political principles, and scientific inquiry. He highlights real possibilities for improved identification, their challenges to the legal tradition, and persuasively argues that the promises of improved justice must be realized before another wrongful conviction lets the guilty go free. This is an important look at a pressing issue in the news with every exoneration.
Death Penalty on Trial: Crisis in American Justice
by Bill Kurtis
Bill Kurtis, the A&E host and Kansas booster, has had an uncomfortably up-close view of the worst in human nature for much of his career. But the man who covered the Manson family trials has lately been sickened by the idea that our justice system has sent innocent men to the death chamber.
“Look, I was for the death penalty,” Kurtis said in a telephone interview, “but looking at these cases and the rapidly increasing number of exonerations, there are just too many possibilities for error.” In the state of Illinois, where Kurtis Productions is based, 13 men were set free in the late 1990s after research — some of it done as a class project by journalism students — uncovered grave errors in their cases.
Click HERE to read the rest of this review by Aaron Barnhart of the Kansas City Star.
Unspeakable Acts, Ordinary People
by John Conroy
Torture is a commonplace evil, and it is infectious. Governments, their agents, and their citizens have done little to halt the resurgence and spread of this barbaric practice; in fact, they have proved more than ready to institutionalize it and protect the perpetrators from scrutiny. If confronting torture is possible, the task must surely center on raising awareness and generating widespread indignation. Conroy draws on three case studies of torture -- in Northern Ireland, Israeli-occupied Gaza and Chicago, Illinois -- to make plain that the phenomenon is not limited to "them" rather than "us," but that each of us might, under the wrong circumstances, be drawn as perpetrators into the web of torture and atrocity.
Click HERE for St. Petersburg [Florida] Times coverage of Chicago police torturer Jon Burge.
|Suspect Identities: A
History of Fingerprinting and Criminal Identification
by Simon Cole
In Suspect Identities, Simon Cole reveals
that the history of criminal identification is far murkier than we have
been led to believe. Cole traces the modern system of fingerprint
identification to the nineteenth-century bureaucratic state, and its
desire to track and control increasingly mobile, diverse populations
whose race or ethnicity made them suspect in the eyes of authorities.
In an intriguing history that traverses the globe, taking us to India,
Argentina, France, England, and the United States, Cole excavates the
forgotten history of criminal identification--from photography to
exotic anthropometric systems based on measuring body parts, from
fingerprinting to DNA typing. He reveals how fingerprinting ultimately
won the trust of the public and the law only after a long battle
against rival identification systems.
for Amazon.com review and excerpts
Innocent: Inside Wrongful Conviction Cases
by Scott Christianson
Innocent graphically documents forty-two recent criminal cases to find evidence of shocking miscarriages of justice, especially in murder cases. Based upon interviews with more than 200 people and reviews of hundreds of internal case files, court records, smoking-gun memoranda, and other documents, Scott Christianson gets inside the legal cases and displays them through documents and images of the people and evidence involved.
Some of the defendants in Innocent are still in prison, trying to prove their innocence to the courts. Others have had their convictions reversed and the charges against them dismissed, and still others have been awarded civil damages after the state conceded their innocence. The result is a powerful work that recounts the human costs of a criminal justice system gone awry, and shows us how wrongful convictions can — and do — happen everywhere.
Click HERE for Amazon.com review.
by Taryn Simon, with Barry Scheck and Peter Neufeld
These are the faces and voices of the wrongfully convicted. These are the stories of people imprisoned for years before finally proving their innocence. This collection of photographs and oral histories of fifty men and women gathered from across the United States forcefully describes a judicial system most of us would not recognize, where corrupt prosecutors, sleeping lawyers, bent cops, and jailhouse snitches subvert the most fundamental principles of justice. Photographer Taryn Simon and leading attorneys Neufeld and Scheckk bring us face-to-face with individuals falsely accused and convicted.
Click HERE for Amazon.com review.
and Justice: An Exposé of Oklahoma's Death Row Machine
Since leaving the Los Angeles Police Department in disgrace after O.J. Simpson was acquitted of murder, homicide detective Mark Fuhrman has evolved into a prolific author with a one-track mind.
Fuhrman's previous three books use the word "murder" in the title: Murder in Brentwood, Murder in Spokane and Murder in Greenwich. The new book does not use that word in the title, but murder is very much on Fuhrman's mind.
Death and Justice is a transformative book for Fuhrman and an important book for his considerable audience. He takes readers on his first-person journey from death-penalty advocate to death-penalty opponent, using Oklahoma City as his backdrop.
Click HERE for Steve Weinberg's review.
1742, Charles-Louis de
Secondat, Baron de Montesquieu, wrote, "There is no crueler tyranny
than that which is perpetrated under the shield of law and in the name
Two hundred forty-three years later, in 1985, Dorothy Rabinowitz, a syndicated columnist and television commentator, encountered the case of a New Jersey day care worker named Kelly Michaels, accused of 280 counts of sexually abusing nursery school children -- and exposed the first of the prosecutorial abuses described in No Crueler Tyrannies.
No Crueler Tyrannies is at once a truly frightening and at the same time inspiring book, documenting how these citizens, who became targets of the justice system in which they had so much faith, came to comprehend that their lives could be destroyed, that they could be sent to prison for years -- even decades. No Crueler Tyrannies shows the complicity of the courts, their hypocrisy and indifference to the claims of justice, but also the courage of those willing to challenge the runaway prosecutors and the strength of those who have endured their depredations.
Click HERE for reviews.
A Classic by Michael L. Radelet
with contributions by
Hugo Adam Bedau and Constance Putnam
Click HERE for excerpts from Amazon.com!
writer for 20 years, Scott Turow continues to work about 20 hours a
as a lawyer, handling mostly pro bono cases. Among the criminal
he has represented free of charge was Alex Hernandez, convicted along
Rolando Cruz of the murder of Jeanine Nicarico -- a crime in which
man was involved. In successfully obtaining Hernandez'
exoneration, Turow was left to wonder how many other innocent people
are on death row. Although Reversible Errors is fiction,
it grew from Turow's experiences throughout his career as a lawyer.
Flawed cops, crooked judges, cheating husbands, good people who do bad things, bad people who do good things, systems only as honest as the people running them -- this is the terrain Turow has explored since his first novel, 1987's Presumed Innocent.
For Turow, the ultimate problem with the death penalty is contained in his question: ''How do we build a system that will reach those who ought to die but excludes those who shouldn't?''
Click HERE for USA Today review.
Link: Human Sacrifice II
by James Moore
Why is Dennis Dechaine serving a life sentence for murder when all of the scientific evidence points elsewhere—and the jury never heard about it?
"This book's importance lies in its questioning of assumptions that all of us take for granted on a daily basis. The presumption of innocence, Moore shows, never existed for Dechaine. Time after time Moore exposes biases and subtle betrayals of the objectivity that all of us have sworn to uphold. This book is a 'must read' for every attorney in this state."
—Peter Clifford, Esq., Maine Lawyers Review
||A Tale of Brazen Politics that also
Charts an Extraordinary Choice and a Journey of Personal Redemption
Have you ever wondered why people lie under oath and send innocent people to prison for the government?
Have you ever wondered what sanctimonious but unscrupulous prosecutors are willing to do to the "little people" who refuse to commit crimes for them?
Have you ever wondered what you would do if prosecutors told you to lie for them -- or else?
If you answered "yes" to any of these questions, you need to read Susan McDougal's book.
MY SOUL SAID TO ME:
An Unlikely Journey Behind the Walls of Justice
by Robert E. Roberts, D.D.S., Ph.D., M.S.W.
Published by Health Communications, Inc.
(ISBN 0-7573-0064-2, 297 pages, softcover, $12.95)
Available wherever books are sold, online or off.
by Thomas Frisbie and Randy Garrett
How were two innocent men sentenced to death for a crime they didn't commit? Frisbie and Garrett explore all the factors, including prosecutorial misconduct. It seems unthinkable to many people that prosecutors -- officers of the court sworn to uphold justice -- would intentionally withhold exculpatory evidence, encourage witnesses to lie, or present testimony known to be untrue. But such practices are common in wrongful convictions. Frisbie and Garrett learned that an assistant state's attorney lied under oath as the case they investigated unfolded. They asked about the reputation of the chief prosecutor, too. They heard again and again that, as they write, "he was the kind of lawyer who could fall victim to the Prosecution Complex, who could get so focused on winning a case that no amount of evidence could convince him he had the wrong suspects."
|Journalist and author Steve Weinberg looks at three books about wrongful convictions and the lessons they teach for journalists. These are Lessons for Everyone.|
by James Neff
Who better than James Neff to write the definitive work on the Sam Sheppard case? Neff grew up in Dr. Sheppard's home town of Cleveland, Ohio, and for ten years Neff was a reporter with the Cleveland Plain Dealer. Clevelanders exonerated themselves of civil liability for Dr. Sheppard's murder conviction last year. James Neff doesn't let them off the hook that easily.
by D. Graham Burnett
"The prosecution's burden had to be very high, he declared, because the state's power was so strong. They had all learned something about that power in recent days, he observed. We discovered that a man in a chair and a robe could tell us we couldn't go home, that we couldn't talk to our families, that we couldn't even talk to a lawyer. He could send us to jail ... We discovered that in the end, there seemed to be no limit to the power of the state over us, once we fell into its hands."
Barry Scheck, Peter Neufeld and Jim Dwyer
A nightmare from a thousand B-movies ~ but a reality for hundreds of Americans
|The books recommended here are not light reading for a weekend at the beach. They are important books because they tell the true stories of real people sent to prison ~ including Death Row ~ for crimes they did not commit. Journalist Steve Weinberg explains how Media, Scholars Often Become Condemned's Last Hope.|
The Turn Of-The-Century Lynching That Launched 100 Years of Federalism
Mark Curriden and Leroy Phillips, Jr.
"God bless you all. I am an
innocent man." Those were Ed Johnson's last words.
Stories by Some Guy in the Joint
by Phillip Lippert
"Before I escaped from prison in 1983, I defined my life in three consecutive stages: I was in diapers, I was high on LSD, I was in prison. After I escaped, I added five years' worth of life experiences in Texas and Mexico. Now I'm back in prison."
Phillip Lippert, sentenced to a life term for a crime he did not commit, draws on all of these experiences in this unique look at his world.
Click on the book cover or title to read excerpts or order.
~ Alan Dershowitz
The Tyranny of Good Intentions
American who cares about justice should read this book." - Alan
My Life is My Sun Dance
"Listen to this fresh, brave voice, then inform yourself about the shameful case of Leonard Peltier." (Peter Matthiessen, author of In the Spirit of Crazy Horse)
|Fireflies in the Delta
Fiction clearly drawn from the author's years of experience as a prosecutor, criminal defense attorney and judge, exploring why innocent people confess to crimes they didn't commit.
Joe Jackson and William E. Burke, Jr.
story of Dennis Stockton and
John F. Kelly and Phillip Wearne
Everything you never knew about the FBI Crime Lab
|A Promise of Justice:
The 14 Year Fight to Save Four Innocent Men
David L. Protess and Robert Warden
Astonishing legal incompetence
Reinvestigating the MacDonald Murders
Jerry Allen Potter, with Fred Bost
The "devastating rebuttal to
When Innocent People Are Wrongly Convicted
Journalism, In the Hat and
A Town's Terror, A Prosecutor's Power, A Betrayal of Innocence
by Edward Humes
A Guide for Non-Scientists
What Everyone Needs to Know About Forensic Science
by John Houde, B.S., D.A.B.C.
||Forever Lost, Forever Gone
The Tragedy of the Birmingham Six
Paddy Joe Hill
Ideals and Realities of American Criminal Justice
Matthew B. Robinson
Wrongful Conviction and Public Policy
by C. Ronald Huff, Arye Rattner and Edward Sagarin
Even if the American system of criminal justice proved 99.5% accurate, it would still generate more than 10,000 wrongful convictions a year--and those would reflect only the eight serious index crimes.
Soup for the Prisoner's Soul
by Jack Canfield, Mark Victor Hansen, and Tom Lagana
This is a work-in-progress which will be distributed free of charge to men, women and youth in correctional facilities. Contributing Authors include inmates, former inmates, loved ones, volunteers, staff, victims, Sr. Helen Prejean, Charles Colson, and Billy Graham. Wrote one inmate of this book: "Chicken Soup for the Prisoner’s Soul brought out feelings and emotions I forgot I had. It had a positive influence on me and helped give me a sense of hope, self-esteem and empowerment in finding new ways to live successfully.” Click HERE to find out how you can be a part of this outreach.
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