- Paperback: 432 pages
- Publisher: Berkley; Reprint edition edition (December 2, 2003)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0451209826
- ISBN-13: 978-0451209825
- Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 0.9 x 8 inches
- Shipping Weight: 7.2 ounces
- Average Customer Review: 98 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #221,565 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Actual Innocence: When Justice Goes Wrong and How to Make it Right Reprint edition Edition
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From Library Journal
Scheck and Peter Neufeld, whose Innocence Project seeks to overturn wrongful convictions through DNA testing, join with Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist Jim Dwyer to examine the cases of ten innocent people the project has been able to rescue.
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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
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I have to reveal that I know Jim Dwyer, he is the brother-in-law of one of my good friends, I've read many of his other books and I have really liked them all, so I may be a bit biased in my review of his books.
If you are a fan of the podcast Serial or the TV show Law and Order or if you wonder about fairness of the criminal justice system in the US, this is a must read. While the information contained in this book may not help free Adnan Syed, it shows how many people are convicted with faulty evidence and unreliable eyewitness testimony.
Each chapter takes on a different broken part of the justice system, from eye witnesses, to jailhouse, snitches, faulty lab evidence, police misconduct, confessions, lazy attorneys etc... Its terrifying to think of how many people are wrongfully convicted of crimes and how long it takes to get them cleared in this country. And the even scarier part is that there aren't systems in place to punish those who withhold evidence, force confessions, or give false testimony...most of those people aren't charged, convicted or punished in any way. There are very few safeguards.
Once convicted of a crime its almost impossible to get back out. Some systems refuse to allow DNA testing after a conviction leaving innocent people in prison and even more startling are the times when DNA proves the person is innocent and the state won't allow them to be freed saying they must have been guilty in some way. The facts according to the authors are that there are thousands more that could be freed with DNA testing. Although science is not the stop gap for flaws in any criminal justice system, the authors very convincingly argue that it would be a beneficial start.
The stories in this book are accessible and easy to follow but not preachy. If you have any interest in the law or justice this is a must read.
The most sobering point is that DNA -- which only has been useful for a few years -- can exonerate a prisoner ONLY IF the perpetrator left a smidgen of his DNA behind. Since this occurs in a small subset of cases (rapes and some murders), there is no way to prove easily that someone has been wrongfully convicted in other situations.
Rather than just point out the problems which result in wrongful convictions, the authors offer numerous suggestions, both throughout the text and in the conclusion. The most obvious one, which has only been adopted by a couple of states, is that, whether or not you are for or against the death penalty, executions should be suspended automatically until DNA evidence can be reviewed, if available. (Are you listening George W.?)
Again, this book is a must read. It's a quick read, but will undoubtedly leave a lasting impression.
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“Actual Innocence” is a legal term that refers to the wrongfully convicted.Read more