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Actual Innocence: When Justice Goes Wrong and How to Make it Right Reprint edition Edition

4.6 out of 5 stars 88 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0451209825
ISBN-10: 0451209826
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Editorial Reviews

Review

A troubling portrayal of the criminal justice system from within its well-guarded walls.” —New York Times“Required reading for anyone who believes that only the guilty are put to death…A catalog of appalling miscarriages of justice.” —Washington Post"[A] chilling look at judicial corruption and incompetence.” —New York Daily News“Should be required reading for...our justice system.”—Philadelphia Inquirer

About the Author

Jim Dwyer and Kevin Flynn, native New Yorkers, veteran newspaper reporters, and winners of many awards together and separately, now work at The New York Times. Dwyer is the coauthor or author of three other books. Flynn, a special projects editor at the Times, was the newspaper's police bureau chief on September 11. He previously worked as a reporter for the New York Daily News, New York Newsday, and the Stamford Advocate.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 432 pages
  • Publisher: NAL; Reprint edition edition (December 2, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0451209826
  • ISBN-13: 978-0451209825
  • Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 0.9 x 8.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (88 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #106,260 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Everyone with a heart, brain, soul and/or conscience must read this book.
This book tells the stories of many men who were convicted unjustly. While I expected to learn of the stories of the men who were proven "actually innocent" by DNA, I didn't expect to find that in doing so it exposed many other injustices as well.
What I found was that while DNA was the catalyst, and the ultimate proof that set these men free - it did far more than that. It was because of the DNA evidence that the courts were forced to see that there are far more flaws the justice system than any of us would like to admit.
I found myself alternately fascinated and appalled throughout this book.
What truly amazed me was that "actual innocence" is not the be all and end all in the courts as it should be. I was floored that even though a person could be proven "actually innocent" via DNA, there were still hoops that lawyers had to leap through to obtain justice.
I would urge everyone who reads this book to take note to the suggestions peppered throughout and take action to make the changes necessary (whether it be on the state or federal level) to make sure that the guilty are punished, not the innocent.
For anyone who thinks that this book is for "bleeding-heart liberals", remember this - for every person unjustly imprisoned, and God forbid, sentenced to death - there is the very real probability that the real perpetrator is still out there.
I would urge EVERYONE to buy this book and learn from it.
I would really like to give this book a rating much higher that five (5) stars, as I believe it should serve as an educational experience for all of us.
Don't remain anonymous - buy this book, learn from it and act.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
The authors belong to the "Innocence Project", an organized attempt to determine the innocence or guilt through recently available DNA evidence of those convicted of murder/violent crimes. In over 80 cases the were able to _prove_ the innocence of the wrongly convicted, many on death row.
This book results from that project and outlines in each chapter some of the failures of the justice system in these cases including the unreliability of eyewitnesses, incompentant defense lawyers, poor laws and more. The book is straightforwardly written and very easy reading. It is also a strong indictment against our current justice system. Unlike many 'critical' books, the authors also offer suggestions for changes that would help improve our justice system and lower the number of the wrongly convicted.
This book has gotten me to think so much about our system of justice and the ramifications, that we have decided to us it as a book in our family book club and I view some experiences now through the prism of this book (recent experience with hearing two very different stories from two people of the same exact event). That a book has affected the way I percieve things is a mark of a good book.
The one criticism I have of the book is that there is not enough supporting evidence. Though I know the focus of the book is what they had learned from the Innocence Project and not a research survey, I would like to have seen more collaborative statistics and references in each chapter (perhaps an appendix with a few studies and further reading would have been welcome).
Still, it is an important and interesting book and well worth reading.
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Format: Hardcover
What a shocking book about American justice! It seems that many of the things that minorities have been complaining about over the years are being undisputedly validated. If the current L.A. Police Department's probe into the Rampart Station rogue police officers making their own version of justice, or the New York Police Department's multiple shootings and/or maltreatment of unarmed minorities are not bad enough, then comes along this incredible book.
Written by Jim Dwyer in a journalistic style, the story is told in unremitting forthrightness. Even though the obvious intent is not to scream and yell, their passion for the truth shines through on every page, and the facts speak for themselves. The statistics are horrible.
It is typical American paradox, in a legal profession that purports to champion the causes of truth and justice, so many that are in positions of power will blatantly ignore, manipulate or fabricate these two ideals. That includes pandering politicians as well.
Just a simple two paragraph quote from the book will give you insight of the serious, damaging and outrageous facts that the authors elucidate: "In the United States, there are grave consewquences when an airplane falls from the sky; and automobile has a defective part; a patient is the victim of malpractice, a bad drug, or an erroneous lab report. Serious inquiries are made: What went wrong? Was it a systemic breakdown? An individual's mistake? Was there official misconduct? Can anything be done to correct the problem and prevent it from happening again?
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