NONFICTION

Overturning Wrongful Convictions: Science Serving Justice

120p. bibliog. diag. ebook available. further reading. index. notes. photos. reprods. Twenty-First Century. 2015. lib. ed. $33.32. ISBN 9781467725132. LC 2014017225.
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Gr 9 Up—This well-researched, extremely thorough look at how the legal system can go awry examines how people end up wrongly incarcerated and the paths that may lead to exoneration. Forensic scientist Murray presents the steps that comprise a criminal case, including arrest, arraignment, trail, plea deals, verdicts, and appeals, before detailing the potential for errors at every stage. She notes that approximately 40,000 to 100,000 people are wrongly behind bars—a staggering statistic. Murray also describes groups that fight wrongful convictions, like the Innocence Project, as well as ways that convicts are exonerated through advances in science, particularly in the area of DNA evidence. Reasons for wrongful convictions are laid out: mishandled evidence, unreliable witness accounts, false confessions, sloppy police work, bad legal counsel, racial prejudice, and mistakes made by judges. Murray looks at what happens next for those who are exonerated, noting the issues that come with reintegration into society. Though the explanations of legal procedures can be on the dense side, the text is broken up by fascinating profiles of individuals who have been exonerated. The writing is on the scholarly side, making it ideal for students doing research or seeking an in-depth analysis of the subject.
VERDICT A strong purchase about an always timely issue.

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