Wrongful convictions, long regarded as statistical anomalies in an otherwise sound justice system, now appear with frightening regularity. But few people understand just how or why they happen and, more important, the immeasurable consequences that often haunt the lucky few who are acquitted, years after they are proven innocent.
Now, in this groundbreaking anthology, fourteen exonerated inmates narrate their stories to a roster of high-profile mystery and thriller writers—including Lee Child, Sara Paretsky, Laurie R. King, Jan Burke and S. J. Rozan—while another exoneree’s case is explored in a previously unpublished essay by legendary playwright Arthur Miller. An astonishing and unique collaboration, these testimonies bear witness to the incredible stories of innocent men and women who were convicted of serious crimes and cast into the maw of a vast and deeply flawed American criminal justice system before eventually, and miraculously, being exonerated.
Introduced by best-selling authors Scott Turow and Barry Scheck, these master storytellers capture the tragedy of wrongful convictions as never before and challenge readers to confront the limitations and harsh realities of the American criminal justice system. Lee Child tells of Kirk Bloodsworth, who obsessively read about the burgeoning field of DNA testing, cautiously hoping that it held the key to his acquittal—until he eventually became the first person to be exonerated from death row based on DNA evidence. Judge John Sheldon and author Gayle Lynds team up to share Audrey Edmunds’s experience raising her children long distance from her prison cell. And exoneree Gloria Killian recounts to S. J. Rozan her journey from that fateful “knock on the door” and the initial shock of accusation to the scars she carries today.
Together, the powerful stories collected within the Anatomy of Innocence detail every aspect of the experience of wrongful conviction, as well as the remarkable depths of endurance sustained by each exoneree who never lost hope.
With movements like Black Lives Matter at the forefront of society right now, and multiple documentaries about wrongful convictions such as Steven Avery and The West Memphis Three out, there has never been a better time for this book to come out and be read. This topic is so important.
Reading about the lives of these poor, innocent human beings being treated like they’re dirt, like they’re less than dirt, is devastating. A number of these stories actually brought tears to my eyes. How this injustice goes on, I can’t fathom. In many of these stories we hear how there are alibis that prove the person wasn’t there to commit the crime, but they convict them anyway. There are confessions from other people to crimes, yet they will convict someone else .There is someone else’s DNA on a victims body but they will commit someone whose DNA is not on the body. And possibly the worst one of them all, there are statements from VICTIMS that the person they have arrested is not the right person, yet they will still convict them. How can a legal system, that’s supposed to protect us and who we’re supposed to trust, let this happen? It makes my blood boil.
In this book, each person’s story is written by a prolific crime writer, so all of these accounts are really well written and they really bring out raw emotions in you because they’re so well presented and you can feel the exonerees pain.
Many of these people spent over a decade, if not over two decades of their life trapped in the walls of dirty prisons for crimes they were innocent of, such as murder, child murder, rape and GBH. The brutality of the officers arresting these people makes me sick. Literal torture is used on innocent people, as young as 17, to coax a false confession out of them, all because they want to be able to arrest someone. What makes me sicker is that these officers and the higher powers who turn(ed) a blind eye to this kind of abuse are never charged or made to own up to their brutalities AND because of the idiocy of these *insert the worst possible swear word and insults here* policemen, real child sex offenders and heartless murderers are NEVER CAUGHT.
This book is hopeful, but it is also heart breaking and while I could go on forever talking about the hatred and rage that this book makes me feel, but I’m going to end it with this instead.
You are brave and you are strong. Thank you for sharing your stories with us and shining a light on a subject so often ignored. I hope the world does nothing but right by you from here on in. You, over anyone, deserve it.
I have been inspired. I am now going to look into the UK’s own Innocence Group and see what I can do to help those 10% who are wrongly convicted and being left to rot in prison.
Thanks to Netgalley and W. W. Norton & Company for giving me the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.