As we wrote yesterday in our post on ten great moments of the decade, it has been an eventful and successful 10 years for individuals and groups working to overturn wrongful convictions – but there’s plenty of work left to do.
As we embark on a new decade, here’s a roundup of 10 must-read books on wrongful convictions and criminal justice reform from the last 10 years, in no particular order. There were many more great books on the issue in the 2000s than we can name here, however, so please visit our book list for more good reads.
“Picking Cotton” by exoneree Ronald Cotton and crime victim Jennifer Thompson-Cannino, with Erin Torneo. Set to come out in paperback on January 4, this book was a highlight of 2009 and tells the moving story of a wrongful conviction and the fight for reform from the perspectives of an exoneree and crime victim.
“Actual Innocence”, by Innocence Project Co-Directors Barry Scheck and Peter Neufeld, with Jim Dwyer, this groundbreaking book examines the emergence of DNA testing and the causes of wrongful conviction it unveiled.
“Exit to Freedom,” an autobiography by Georgia exoneree Calvin Johnson, with Greg Hampikian of the Idaho Innocence Project, describes Johnson’s 1983 wrongful conviction, his fight for freedom and the challenges of building a new life after exoneration.
“The Innocents,” is a visually stunning collection of exoneree photos by Taryn Simon, with commentary by Innocence Project Co-Directors Barry Scheck and Peter Neufeld.
“Surviving Justice: America’s Wrongfully Convicted and Exonerated,” includes first-hand accounts of injustice and exoneration from 13 men and women who were wrongfully convicted. Edited by Dave Eggers and Lola Vollen.
“Journey Toward Justice,” is Dennis Fritz’s personal account of his conviction in Oklahoma for a murder he didn’t commit.
“True Stories of False Confessions,” gathers articles and stories of false confessions, one of the leading causes of wrongful conviction. Edited by Rob Warden and Steve Drizin of the Center on Wrongful Convictions at the Northwestern University School of Law.
“Tulia: Race, Cocaine, and Corruption in a Small Texas Town,” by Nate Blakeslee, explores injustice and the drug war through the lens of a wrongful conviction scandal in Texas.
“The Innocent Man,” John Grisham’s first non-fiction book tells the heartbreaking story of a murder in Oklahoma and an unimaginable injustice suffered by two innocent men: Ron Williamson and Dennis Fritz.
“Bloodsworth,” by Tim Junkin, is the story of Kirk Bloodsworth, the first person exonerated through DNA testing in the U.S. after serving time on death row.