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Stories about wrongful conviction and related issues

First articles, then books. Updated from an earlier version.


• See below a list of books about wrongful convictions and related issues, recommended by the highly valued Innocence Project, which works nationwide to free the innocent and reform our criminal justice system. See The Innocence Project: A Short History Since 1983 (Black Past). "DNA testing has exonerated more than 345 innocent people in the United States – and others are still waiting for justice."
• Also of interest: The Equal Justice Initiative (EJI), based in Montgomery, Alabama, "provides legal representation to prisoners who may have been wrongly convicted of crimes, poor prisoners without effective representation, and others who may have been denied a fair trial." Read about it in the bestseller Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption by Bryan Stevenson.  On EJI's website (with links to material on racial justice, children in prison, mass incarceration, the death penalty, and "just mercy"): "Since 1973, 166 people have been released from death row after evidence of their innocence was uncovered. A shocking rate of error has emerged: for every nine people executed in this country, one innocent person has been exonerated."


Articles about wrongful convictions (and exonerations)

Crime victims form unlikely bonds with wrongfully convicted men (Leslie Stahl, 60 Minutes, 3-17-24)
Capturing the emotional journey of Healing Justice (Will Croxton, 60 Minutes, 3-17-24)
Why rape survivors and exonerees went on a retreat together (Lesley Stahl, Aliza Chasan, Shari Finkelstein, Collette Richards, 60 Minutes Overtime, 3-17-24) A rape survivor, guilt ridden after learning that an innocent man had been sent to prison in her case, brings together crime victims and exonerees to help heal those impacted by wrongful convictions.
Finally, Justice (Jake Tapper, The Atlantic, 3-24) Two years ago, he wrote an Atlantic cover story about the case of C. J. Rice, a Philadelphia teenager convicted of attempted homicide. Today, Rice was exonerated. C. J. Rice is now a free man.
---C. J. Rice’s Conviction Is Overturned (Andrew Aoyama, The Atlantic, 11-28-23) After a cover story in The Atlantic, a man convicted of a crime he insists he did not commit now has a chance to be freed from prison.
Sentenced to death, but innocent: These are stories of justice gone wrong. (Phillip Morris, National Geographic, 2-18-21) Since 1973, more than 8,700 people in the U.S. have been sent to death row. At least 182 weren’t guilty—their lives upended by a system that nearly killed them.
More than half of all wrongful criminal convictions are caused by government misconduct, study finds (Tom Jackman, Washington Post, 9-16-20) Misconduct can be intentional or unintentional, but either way innocent people are found guilty
Government Misconduct and Convicting the Innocent:The Role of Prosecutors, Police and Other Law Enforcement (Samuel R. Gross, Maurice J. Possley, Kaitlin Jackson Roll, Klara Huber Stephens,National Registry of Exonerations, 9-1-20) The study cites five types of misconduct that lead to wrongful convictions: witness tampering, misconduct in interrogations, fabricating evidence, concealing exculpatory evidence and misconduct at trial. It found that Black defendants were slightly more likely than White defendants to be victims of misconduct, 57 percent to 52 percent, but that the racial difference was much larger for drug crimes — 47 to 22 percent — and in murder cases, 78 to 64 percent. In some instances, authorities purposefully sought to improperly influence a case; other times their missteps were unintentional or based on flawed techniques.
National Registry of Exonerations (a project of the Newkirk Center for Science & Society at University of California Irvine, the University of Michigan Law School and Michigan State University College of Law) See Registry tallies over 2,000 wrongful convictions since 1989 ( David G. Savage, Washington Bureau, Los Angeles Times, 5-20-12) More than 2,000 people have been freed from prison in the U.S. since 1989 after they were found to have been wrongly convicted of serious crimes, according to a new National Registry of Exonerations compiled by University of Michigan Law School and Northwestern University. Follow Exoneration Registry.

% Exonerations by Contributing Factor (National Registry of Exonerations) Factors: Mistaken Witness ID, Perjury or False Accusation, False Confession, False or Misleading Forensic Evidence, Official Misconduct.
Wrongful conviction podcasts
Wrongful Convictions (National Institute of Justice) Articles and other resources on such topics as DNA testing,forensic science, erroneous identification.
Causes of wrongful conviction (Innocence Clinic, Michigan Law, University of MIchigan)

List of Wrongful Convictions (Wikipedia)
New Docuseries Highlights the Impact of Wrong Convictions (Sameer Rao, ColorLines, 10-30-18) The first episode of Vice’s “Innocence Ignored” explores the many drawbacks of Alford pleas, which prevent compensation for the wrongfully convicted.
Wrongful Convictions: A New Exoneration Registry Tests Stubborn Judges (Andrew Cohen, The Atlantic, 5-21-12)
Righting Wrongful Convictions of Youth: What You Can Do (Terry Keleher, ColorLines, 10-4-09) Each year in the US, millions of young people interact with juvenile and criminal courts where they often face unfair treatment and racial discrimination.
The Neighbors Who Destroyed Their Lives (Robert Kolker, The Atlantic, 12-22-23) Murder and lies in small-town Hawaii. "Wrongful convictions can result from any number of cascading errors, blatant oversights, and outright slipups—some conscious and deliberate, some structural and circumstantial. Over 32 years, the investigation and prosecutions of the Schweitzers seem to have incorporated every possible one of them. There was intense media attention putting pressure on police to make an arrest—the “dead white girl” phenomenon. There was cultural bias against Native Hawaiians like the Schweitzers—the legacy, well known to Hawaiians, of lynchings of native men for alleged attacks on white women. There was investigative tunnel vision—going after the Schweitzer brothers even after the facts failed to support that case. There was blind faith in jailhouse informants—a slew of them, all hoping for special favors from prosecutors in return for their testimony. There was junk science—about teeth marks, and tire treads. There even may have been prosecutorial misconduct—a state lawyer misleading a judge about the outcome of one of the brothers’ polygraph tests."
Articles about wrongful convictions (ColorLines)


Books about wrongful conviction and related issues

*DISCLOSURE: Buy anything from Amazon after clicking on a link here and I get a minuscule referral fee for your purchases, with no additional cost to you. Even better, encourage your library to buy these books from the publisher, and check them out of the library.


Actual Innocence: When Justice Goes Wrong and How to Make it Right by Barry Scheck, Peter Neufeld, and Jim Dwyer (2000)
Adams vs. Texas: The True Story Made Famous by the Highly Acclaimed Film The Thin Blue Line by Randall Adams, with William Hoffer and . Read More 

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Life with Alzheimer's: Bonnie Estridge's compelling series in The Mail on Sunday

Here's Bonnie Estridge's amazing series on Life with Alzheimer's, published in The Mail on Sunday (the Daily Mail, UK)

Alzheimer's won't defeat me, I have so much to look forward to: One sufferer's defiant message as dementia rates in Britain soar (The Mail on Sunday, 11-11-17)

Bonnie Estridge can remember seeing Bob Dylan at the Isle of Wight Festival in 1969 but forgets simple words she uses on a daily basis. Doctors in London fear she has Alzheimer's.

'So what if I lose my keys - they'll turn up': BONNIE ESTRIDGE on not letting Alzheimer's get in the way of her life (Bonnie Estridge for The Mail on Sunday, Daily Mail UK, 7-21-18) Journalist Bonnie Estridge, 66, from London, offers a refreshingly upbeat approach to living life with the illness that she refers to as 'the A-word'.

The A-word: Bonnie Estridge has Alzheimer's... but life goes on (8-18-18)

Bonnie Estridge, 67, was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease last year. Here she gives her undeniably upbeat take on life with the illness she calls ‘the A-word’.

The real agony of going to the dentist? Getting lost on the way! (9-15-18)

BONNIE, 67, was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease last year. Here, her undeniably upbeat take on life with the illness she calls ‘the A-word’.

Helping hand from Downton creator on my luvvie night out: BONNIE ESTRIDGE on how Alzheimer’s is portrayed in the media (10-13-18)

Bonnie Estridge describes stepping out of her comfort zone by agreeing to give a speech at a Channel 4 event in London, organised in conjunction with the Alzheimer’s Society.

The unbearable question: How long will I live? (11-24-18)

How long am I going to live? I’m not normally introspective, but the question was sparked a few weeks ago when I visited my friend Melanie’s mum, who is in the local care home. 

My gravy meltdown and how it led to my Alzheimer's diagnosis: on how Christmas is the best time to spot dementia (12-17-18)

Two years ago, the stress of Christmas prompted something serious: One of the first clear signs of something that would change our family Christmases, and our lives, for ever.

BONNIE ESTRIDGE: This year the girls are coming over for Christmas Day, and my husband Chris will work his magic with a small turkey. Seeing them is what it's all about for me.


Should I give up shopping in case I become a thief? (1-26-19)

A recent study found eight per cent of dementia patients ended up committing crimes, including theft.


Friends reunited on a trip back to the summer of '69 (2-16-19)

The other day, BONNIE ESTRIDGE read a quote somewhere online that said ‘adult friendships are two people saying, “I haven’t seen you in ages – we should hang out more until one of you dies’.


Don't laugh, but I've watched Bohemian Rhapsody 12 times (4-14-19)

I don’t really remember a lot of it, so it’s just as enjoyable every time. Watching the film over and over is a comforting routine.


I keep forgetting that I've got this horrible illness (5-11-19)

I am writing this column from my hotel room in Barcelona, sporting a large plaster on my left knee. Chris and I are on holiday to see an old friend and explore the city.


A bus stop in my dementia ward? It's just the ticket (6-15-19)

A few weeks ago, a bus stop appeared slap bang in the middle of the dementia ward at my local hospital, St George's in London. There it was, complete with the iconic red circle.


Do you forget your passwords? Imagine what it's like being me, says BONNIE ESTRIDGE in her latest despatch on life with Alzheimer's (7-20-19)

Anything I can actually remember is labelled 'weak'. Eventually, in frustration, I'll put something in so complex it has to be written down.


Why, with huge reluctance, I'm off the booze: (8-24-19)

I have given up booze. Completely, on doctor's orders. I haven't touched a drop for more than a month and I'd be lying if I said I didn't miss it.


When I played the beautiful game – in Biba high heels (9-28-19)

I went to Wembley to watch England play in the 1966 World Cup. And my first taste of playing came - yes, I did! - when I was about 20, while working for Vanity Fair magazine.

'It might sound strange... but life's still good': BONNIE ESTRIDGE reflects on how having Alzheimer's means she's no longer one of life's worriers (11-9-19)

I don't rake over the events of the day in my head. I don't worry or ruminate. I suppose it's all to do with the fact that my short-term memory is bad.

BONNIE ESTRIDGE on life with Alzheimer's: They've banned me from the kitchen… and I'm delighted! (12-21-19)

This year the girls are coming over for Christmas Day, and my husband Chris will work his magic with a small turkey. Seeing them is what it's all about for me.

A new test for my illness… sniffing peanut butter! (7-18-20)

Have you heard of the peanut butter test for Alzheimer's? If you can't smell it, it could be an early-warning sign of the disease.

I can tell the time but can't draw a clock... that's scary 8-15-20)

When it comes to clocks, I had a bit of a horrible realisation recently when my husband asked me to draw one on a blank piece of paper, and, as hard as I tried, I just couldn't. 

Don’t call Monika my carer... she’s my friend and personal shopper!

(Bonnie Estridge, Daily Mail UK, 7-31-21)

I bought a bottle of elderflower cordial while I was pottering around the shops the other day with my new friend Monika. I say she's my friend. In fact, she's my carer.


Here's a link to the whole series (I hope it still works!)

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