- Paperback: 407 pages
- Publisher: New American Library; Reprint edition (1 Dec. 2003)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0451209826
- ISBN-13: 978-0451209825
- Product Dimensions: 13.5 x 2.2 x 20.3 cm
- Average Customer Review: 4 customer reviews
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,008,841 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
Actual Innocence: When Justice Goes Wrong and How to Make It Right Paperback – 1 Dec 2003
Customers who viewed this item also viewed
What other items do customers buy after viewing this item?
Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
"A troubling portrayal of the criminal justice system from within its well-guarded walls."
"Required reading for anyone who believes that only the guilty are put to death . . . A catalog of appalling miscarriages of justice."
"[A] chilling look at judicial corruption and incompetence."
"Should be required reading for . . . our justice system."
"Gut-wrenching, terrifying, hair-raising."
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
Barry Scheck and Peter Neufeld, once lawyers with the Bronx Legal Aid Society, co-founded The Innocence Project, which seeks post-conviction release through DNA testing. They are among the most prominent civil rights attorneys in the U.S.
Jim Dwyer is the two-time Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist for the New York Daily News and author of several other books.
Top customer reviews
There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later.
This book is so much more than a utterly disturbing account of a system gone wrong, it points to an imminent crossroads for democracy. Justice and constitutional rights are fundamental to freedom. Anyone reading this book might find insight as to how "extraordinary rendition" and Guantanomo Bay came about.
I live in Ireland but as a result of reading this book and seeing the fundamental importance of the work described by these authors that I now make modest contributions to their Project. I can only commend it to others who hold human rights dear.
Most helpful customer reviews on Amazon.com
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.
Now days the use of DNA has been incorporated into police investigations in most countries and it will not only prove guilt but it will enable innocent people to be removed from the list of potential suspects. This book is interesting as it gives a snap shot of how the American criminal justice system works and why wrongful convictions occur.
One of the big problems is the unreliability of identification evidence. This book shows how that sort of evidence can be faulty. People will identify suspects for a range of reasons. If a crime occurs, and a person is seen in the lineup that looks familiar it is not uncommon for that person to be picked as the perpetuator. However it is easy for people to become confused and pick people who have had nothing to do with the crime. One example in the book is of the identification by a ticket seller of a person who's face was familiar as he had purchased a ticket some time prior to the crime but who in fact had been overseas at the time the crime had been committed. Another was of someone who was picked as a criminal but the reason for the selection would seem to be that he had lived in the same neighbourhood. In all these cases the victim or witness honestly believes in the guilt of the person who is misidentified. In one case mentioned in this book the DNA evidence in the end cleared the initial suspect but the victim still lives with that face in her mind as the man who raped her.
Identification is not the only reason why innocent people go to jail for crimes they do not commit. The book examines cases in which authorities concoct evidence, prosecutors fail to disclose exculpatory material and defendants are represented by incompetent Attorneys.
One of the sad things about this book is that on average the people who were wrongly convicted spent an average of close to ten years each in jail. Some were entitled to compensation others to nothing at all.
The authors suggest that the problems that led to these injustices still exist in the system and that a certain number of people will, as a result be spending long times in prison for crimes they did not commit. The final appendix of the book is a number of suggested reforms to the legal system.
The book is not written that well and has a certain amount of padding which makes for rather dull reading but despite that it is an important book in evaluating the American Criminal Justice System.