A landmark in the fight against the death penalty. Extensively researched and brilliantly written.” Martin Garbus, criminal defense attorney
Every day, innocent men across America are thrown into prison, betrayed by a faulty justice system, and robbed of their liveseither by decades-long sentences or the death penalty itself. Injustice tarnishes our legal process from start to finish. From the racial discrimination and violence used by backwards law enforcement officers, to a prison culture that breeds inmate conflict, there is opportunity for error at every turn.
Award-winning journalist Stanley Cohen chronicles over one hundred of these cases, from the 1973 case of the first ever death row exoneree, David Keaton, to multiple cases as of 2015 that resulted from the corrupt practices of NYPD Detective Louis Scarcella (with nearly seventy Brooklyn cases under review for wrongful conviction). In the wake of these unjust convictions, grassroots organizations, families, and pro bono lawyers have battled this rampant wrongdoing. Cohen reveals how eyewitness error, jailhouse snitch testimony, racism, junk science, prosecutorial misconduct, and incompetent counsel have populated America’s prisons with the innocent.
Readers embark on journeys with men who were arrested, convicted, sentenced to life in prison or death, dragged through the appeals system, and finally set free based on their actual innocence. Although these stories end with vindication, there are those that have ended with unjustified execution. Convicting the Innocent is sure to fuel controversy over a justice system that has delivered the ultimate punishment nearly one thousand times since 1976, though it cannot guarantee accurate convictions.
Stanley Cohen is a veteran award-winning newspaper and magazine journalist. He has worked as an editor, writer, and reporter for newspapers, magazines, and an international news service for more than fifty years and has also taught writing, journalism, and philosophy at Hunter College. He is the author of ten books, including the acclaimed The Game They Played. He lives in Tomkins Cove, New York.