A Wrongful Conviction and an Innocence Commission

Book review: Ghost of the Innocent Man, by Benjamin Rachlin (Amazon / Book Depository) Wrongful conviction narratives are incomparably terrifying. They leave the reader with a lingering unease, that if this could happen to the person profiled, on flimsy or nonexistent evidence in a complex yet error-filled justice system, it could happen to anyone. It’s happening to others who don’t have books written about them … Continue reading A Wrongful Conviction and an Innocence Commission

Undercover Reporting and the Disturbing History of For-Profit Prisons in America

Book review: American Prison, by Shane Bauer (Amazon / Book Depository) The United States imprisons a higher portion of its population than any country in the world. In 2017 we had 2.2 million people in prisons and jails, a 500 percent increase over the last forty years. We now have almost 5 percent of the world’s population and nearly a quarter of its prisoners. This … Continue reading Undercover Reporting and the Disturbing History of For-Profit Prisons in America

Eloquent Arguments Against Mass Incarceration, Capital and Excessive Punishment, and Mercy Above All

Book review: Just Mercy, by Bryan Stevenson (Amazon / Book Depository) Proximity has taught me some basic and humbling truths, including this vital lesson: Each of us is more than the worst thing we’ve ever done. I avoided reading Just Mercy, to some extent, because I knew it was going to be a painful book to read. And now I’ve avoided writing about it because … Continue reading Eloquent Arguments Against Mass Incarceration, Capital and Excessive Punishment, and Mercy Above All

A Case Study of Justice and Racial Politics in Florida

Book review: Beneath a Ruthless Sun, by Gilbert King Amazon Gilbert King, 2013 Pulitzer winner for Devil in the Grove: Thurgood Marshall, the Groveland Boys, and the Dawn of a New America, returns to the setting of that book: mid-20th century Florida and the intersection of justice and race relations, to tell a new story from the era in this extensive work of history. The book, which … Continue reading A Case Study of Justice and Racial Politics in Florida

Southern Corruption and the Flawed System Allowing Injustice

Book review: The Cadaver King and the Country Dentist, by Radley Balko and Tucker Carrington (Amazon / Book Depository) Despite the relatively low pay of the state positions in forensic pathology, a doctor willing to bend the profession’s guidelines to help supply meet demand could make good money. There are quite a few places across the country where that’s exactly what happened – where doctors have … Continue reading Southern Corruption and the Flawed System Allowing Injustice

Case Histories of an Unusual Investigative Group

Book review: No Stone Unturned, by Steve Jackson In 1988, several criminalists and other scientists sat down in a Denver-area restaurant and came up with the idea of burying pigs to study changes to environments caused by the graves and their contents. Disturbed by what they’d witnessed of outdated techniques for locating clandestine burial sites and the recovery of the remains of murder victims, their idea … Continue reading Case Histories of an Unusual Investigative Group

Reasonable Doubt Abounds: Reexamining a Conviction

Book review: Convenient Suspect, by Tammy Mal (Amazon / Book Depository) Rereading the synopsis before starting this book, it dawned on me that I’d heard of the case, although I hadn’t initially recognized it when I got the book. And I’d never realized it was as complicated as it is. I saw it covered on HBO’s Autopsy, an excellent docuseries (most of which is on YouTube) that … Continue reading Reasonable Doubt Abounds: Reexamining a Conviction

Injustice and the Transgender Tipping Point

Book review: A Murder Over a Girl, by Ken Corbett Psychologist and professor Ken Corbett exhaustively covered the trial of Brandon McInerney, who at age fourteen, executed a classmate, Larry King (not THAT one.) Supposedly because King, who was gay and beginning to express himself in ways that indicate he was probably transgender, was sexually harassing him. The case in Oxnard, California made national headlines when Larry … Continue reading Injustice and the Transgender Tipping Point

The Yogurt Shop Murders and a Look at False Confessions

Book review: Who Killed These Girls?, by Beverly Lowry (Amazon / Book Depository) What do we actually know and how do we know it? Neuroscience teaches us that our brains are never still, even when we’re asleep and have plunged into dreams. Neurons still continue to spark and fly, jumping synapses, digging up memories, creating new ones, adding, subtracting, removing, revising. Until the story feels right. … Continue reading The Yogurt Shop Murders and a Look at False Confessions

Victims of South Central

Book review: The Grim Sleeper, by Christine Pelisek I noticed Christine Pelisek while watching episodes of true crime series People Magazine Investigates. Formerly a reporter for LA Weekly, she now covers crime for People magazine (and looks like a non-terrifying version of weird fashion goblin Rachel Zoe, which is why I always notice her on the show.) I remembered this case both from the news at the time of the murderer’s arrest, but more … Continue reading Victims of South Central

Fact and Memory, Punishment and Forgiveness

Book review: The Fact of a Body, by Alexandria Marzano-Lesnevich Book Depository What is offered here is my interpretation of the facts, my rendering, my attempt to piece together this story. As such, this is a book about what happened, yes, but it is also about what we do with what happened. It is about a murder, it is about my family, it is about other families whose … Continue reading Fact and Memory, Punishment and Forgiveness

How it Feels When a Cold Case Warms Up

Book review: Jane Doe January, by Emily Winslow Some years ago, I made the decision to stop reading a book if I wasn’t enjoying it. Life is short and my reading list is never-ending. 40-odd pages into Jane Doe January, I put it aside with no desire to continue, and I’m not sure why I eventually did. I think because I’d looked forward to it for so long, I couldn’t accept … Continue reading How it Feels When a Cold Case Warms Up