- Series: Voice of Witness
- Paperback: 512 pages
- Publisher: McSweeney's; Main edition (November 25, 2005)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1932416234
- ISBN-13: 978-1932416237
- Product Dimensions: 1.2 x 5.8 x 8.5 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
- Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars See all reviews (23 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #582,957 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Surviving Justice: America's Wrongfully Convicted and Exonerated Main Edition
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About the Author
Lola Vollen is a physician specializing in the aftermath of large-scale human rights abuses. She has worked with survivors of systemic injustices in Somalia, South Africa, Israel, Croatia, and Kosovo. Working with Physicians for Human Rights, she developed Bosnia’s mass-grave exhumation and identification program. She is the founder of the Life After Exoneration Program, which helps exonerated prisoners in the United States with their transitions after release. She is a visiting scholar at the University of California, Berkeley’s Institute of International Studies, co-editor of the Voice of Witness series, and a practicing clinician.
Dave Eggers is the editor of McSweeney’s and the author of four books, including What is the What and A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius, a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize and the winner of the Addison Metcalf Award from the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. As a journalist, his work has appeared in the the New Yorker, the New York Times, Esquire, the Guardian, and other publications. His first book of oral histories, Teachers Have It Easy: The Big Sacrifices and Small Salaries of America’s Teachers—co-edited and co-written with Daniel Moulthrop and Nínive Calegari, appeared in July of 2005. In 2004–2005 he taught a course at the UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism with Lola Vollen, and co-founded the Voice of Witness series. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.
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Top Customer Reviews
The scariest one to me (actually, they're ALL scary) was the woman convicted of murdering one of her best friends, simply because she was the last one to visit him before his murder. It was all based on the hunch of a cop who was SURE it had to be her, and fitted what little evidence there was (like her fingerprints, since she was a frequent visitor) to accommodate his theory. This case, and several of the others, shows how powerful people are who are absolutely certain that they're right when it turns out they're absolutely wrong. The personal bias prejudices any possible objective look at the evidence. It's unfortunate that those who shout the loudest are often listened to the most.
It made me wonder how many people considered "odd" or "antisocial" have been the first ones suspected of any crime, just because they don't fit the mold of the average person in society. This is a terribly troubling book, and Dave Eggers has performed a critical service to justice.
This book profiles 13 people who have been wrongfully accused, convicted, incarcerated, and ultimately exonerated. It is written, for the most part, in first-person narratives with some small clarification and background by the authors sprinkled throughout each narrative. For the most part, I appreciate and like the narratives. They give a unique and personal perspective that hits home harder than a purely clinical reciting of the facts. While I enjoyed this book immensely, and learned a great deal from it, the over-reliance on first-person narratives and the lack of background information, in some of the profiles, loses a star for me in my rating. I understand the authors wanted to let the people speak for themselves, but I felt they should have kept them all on track to some minimal degree.
Some of the narratives, such as Beverly Monroe's, were very poignant and informational... not to mention infuriating. I could almost feel what she felt. I could envision the injustices as they happened. The other people in her story were all too real to me. In my opinion, Agent Riley is himself a criminal, and deserving of prison time.
Other profiles, such as Kevin Green's, were virtually completely lacking in hard information. Mr. Green's narrative was almost entirely on his thoughts and feelings during his childhood, legal problems, prison time, and subsequent release. That's not necessarily a bad thing, but it's not why I bought this book. We got basically one sentence in 32 pages that mentioned one detective taking it upon himself to convict Mr Green, and then it was dropped. I wanted more than that. I wanted to know more about how and why this detective was able to get away with what he did. What, specifically, did this detective do? How, exactly, did the system fail Mr. Green? If Mr. Green was unwilling to go into more detail, then the authors should have filled it in.
Ok, enough of that. Throughout the book there are footnotes that refer to the back of the book. There, chapters devoted to other related side issues help the reader understand in more detail what is happening and why: i.e. how false confessions are attained, prosecutorial misconduct, ineffective legal counsel, biased juries, and so on. Also included is a list of the author's recommended reforms.
All in all, a very good read. Very informative. A very powerful counter argument to the "If you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to fear" garbage that is routinely spewed forth the naive and/or those with an agenda to further.