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Anatomy of Innocence: Testimonies of the Wrongfully Convicted Hardcover – March 28, 2017
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From School Library Journal
A collection of first-person accounts from individuals who were wrongfully arrested and convicted. Told to mystery and true crime writers such as Lee Child, Sara Paretsky, and Jan Burke, these stories highlight the defects in the police, investigative, and legal system that lead to the prosecution and incarceration of innocent people. Themes such as false confessions, mishandled evidence, and, in highly publicized cases, the desire to quickly finger a suspect rather than find the actual criminal run through the work. Each chapter describes a case (for instance, in 1973, Peter Reilly was arrested for allegedly killing his mother), explains how the individual was exonerated, provides background on the author, and features an editors' note with statistics on false convictions. The brutal reality of police torture and prison life is addressed matter-of-factly. Information on the Innocence Project and member groups by state is appended. Black-and-white photographs of the people profiled are included, along with an update on their lives since exoneration. VERDICT A valuable resource for students interested in the legal system and social justice.—Tamara Saarinen, Pierce County Library, WA
“Filled with the triumphs and tragedies of the wrongfully convicted, Anatomy of Innocence is an important book. Every story barrels at us and should both challenge and scare us. They are haunting, harrowing and hopeful.”
- Michael Connelly, best-selling author of the Harry Bosch and Mickey Haller series
“A unique collection of 15 wrongful conviction sagas bound to shake faith in the American criminal justice system…A searing, unforgettable anthology, with valuable insights provided at the end of each chapter by the editors.”
- Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
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ANATOMY OF INNOCENCE highlights a few of their successful cases. A mother convicted of a 'shaken baby syndrome' death based on underdeveloped scientific evidence (the same doctor that played a role in her conviction helped to reverse it); a seventeen year old convicted of rape and murder, even though another person's DNA was present on the body; people convicted based on confessions signed only after abuse and false promises of release; a prosecutor who had exculpatory evidence that was discovered only after his sudden and unexpected death. All of the cases were compelling examples of what can go wrong in the American Justice System, most of them preventable if those charged with the administration of justice followed the rules, laws, Constitutional rights, and ethics that supposed to be sacrosanct to our system of justice.
Many of the cases highlighted did more than tell the stories of the tragedies that led to the false convictions and incarcerations. They shared the awful experiences of the prison systems, the daily lives of hundreds of thousands of Americans imprisoned in inadequate, antiquated, violent, and cruel prisons across the country that have absolutely no rehabilitative purpose, mistaking punishment for justice and, in the long run, likely cause more harm to society than good. In this regard, a few of the cases highlighted were more about the awful system than about the wrongful conviction and the hard work that led to its reversal; while compelling and worthy of a book or two on its own, I thought it deviated from the purpose of this book.
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Laura Caldwell is the founder and director of ‘Life After Innocence’ at Loyola University Chicago School of Law. Leslie S.Read more