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Surviving Justice: America's Wrongfully Convicted and Exonerated
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Surviving Justice: America's Wrongfully Convicted and Exonerated

4.3  ·  Rating Details ·  240 Ratings  ·  32 Reviews
On September 30, 2003, Calvin was declared innocent and set free from Angola State Prison, after serving 22 years for a crime he did not commit. Like many other exonerees, Calvin experienced a new world that was not open to him. Hitting the streets without housing, money, or a change of clothes, exonerees across America are released only to fend for themselves. In the trad ...more
Paperback, 489 pages
Published November 4th 2005 by McSweeney's
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Apr 08, 2008 Daisy rated it really liked it
Shelves: recommended
I finished this book up on the side of the road with a flat tire while waiting to be rescued. I immediately suspected every kind soul who stopped to offer help as my potential murderer... or, even worse, the person I would somehow be wrongfully accused of murdering.

As a long-time fan of Law & Order, it was strange to suddenly see police work as just one more awful form of bureaucracy. The race to move a case into the solved files without even bothering to make sure you've convicted the righ
Jan 18, 2009 Eddy rated it liked it
The three stars I bestowed upon this book don't fully express my feelings about it, so a little elaboration: The book is a dozen first-person narratives of men and one woman wrongly accused and convicted of major felonies and who were later exonerated thanks mainly to dedicated Innocence Project attorneys and law students or their own studies of the law while incarcerated.
Each tells his story, from general life bio to arrest to trial to prison to release. The reason I gave it only the three sta
Feb 11, 2010 Fran rated it really liked it
I am sure I'm not alone in being fascinated with stories of the wrongfully accused. Those people that have their lives completely ruined or even ended for a hideous crime they had nothing to do with. So when I saw this book at 826 Valencia, there was no way I could pass it up. When I bought it, I had just finished Zeitoun by Dave Eggers, and had rekindled my love for him. I also knew that there was no fiction that could be more compelling than the stories of the individuals in this book.

I have
Jun 22, 2011 Loni rated it it was amazing
This book is comprised of first person narratives of wrongfully imprisoned individuals. Some of it is really depressing - a lot of the people had a huge portion of their life taken away. I was amazed at how many of the people channeled their anger into positive outlets, and how their general life outlook is pretty positive, aside from their terrible experience.

Also, this book is very readable because you can read them narrative by narrative and stop here and there and not lose the thread! (Good
Nikki Chee
Jan 07, 2015 Nikki Chee rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Darlene Barton Seltzer
Mar 16, 2011 Darlene Barton Seltzer rated it it was amazing
A life-changing read for anyone who thinks our criminal justice system is fair & effective. For someone like me, who was already aware of how broken it is, this book simply reaffirmed my disapproval of the justice system and our prisons. Appalling first-hand accounts from the wrongfully convicted, including sidebars containing interesting facts & stats. A fascinating, yet agonizing read. It made me rethink going to law school, just so that I can get involved in the Innocence Project here ...more
Jun 22, 2009 Katy rated it it was amazing
This book was life changing. First hand accounts of those who have been wrongfully convicted and imprisoned. It does make you wary of our legal system, but for the better, I think. Please read this book!
Mar 22, 2009 Annhett rated it it was amazing
this book demonstrates the problems of the criminal injustice system. The prison industrial complex needs a major overhaul!
May 07, 2009 Andrew rated it really liked it
This book shows holes in the justice system through first-person accounts. Very interesting and thought-provoking.

Jeremy Stock
Aug 16, 2013 Jeremy Stock rated it it was amazing
A must read.
Jan 24, 2016 Grace rated it liked it
Shelves: 2016challenge
How can you trust the integrity of law enforcement in the U.S. after reading this book? The horrors of the U.S. penal system are magnified for those who are wrongfully convicted. Sadly, the society doesn't go far enough to atone to those have been exonerated for the many wasted years of their lives.
Adam Freilich
Feb 03, 2015 Adam Freilich rated it really liked it
For those about to read this book, it should be noted that this focuses on the corruption of the judicial system, and brushes on prison conditions. The appendices are worth flipping through. All in all, a highly important book to reflect how our justice system can pick a target, and if you are picked you are in guilty.
Aug 17, 2012 Julie rated it really liked it
This is a book from a four-part series that I bought from McSweeney's. Surviving Justice is a compilation of narratives from individuals convicted of crimes they didn't commit. Each story is powerful and yet disturbing all at the same time. The reader is left wondering how and why could this happen. Many of the individuals featured in this compilation were wrongly convicted and imprisoned for fifteen or more years. That is outrageous! In any event, each narrative presents the before, during and ...more
Feb 24, 2015 Glenn rated it liked it
3.5 stars. Profiles of innocent people sent to prison, sometimes on death row, and how their lives were impacted by the wrongful convictions. Scientific advancements and retesting saved DNA evidence played a key in some of the exonerations.
Oct 16, 2008 Carmen rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: everyone
I have so far read half of this book and it inspired me to volunteer for Voice of Witness by transcribing and translating a few interviews.

These interviews seriously made me think twice about the death penalty and how the judicial system works for those who are not fully aware of their rights. I would encourage everyone to read this just so that it can open up people's mind to the idea that wrongful convictions are possible and are more common that you would think.
Feb 11, 2009 George rated it really liked it
I enjoy reading oral histories and 'Surviving Justice' presents twelve very moving, poignant and compelling first-person narratives of people wrongly imprisoned for years/decades, who were finally exonerated. I recommend this book to anyone interested in justice.

For those with an interest, I would also recommend the excellent (2005) documentary 'After Innocence,'; which is available from/at on dvd or instant on-line play.

I think i'll buy this book for my step-father-in-law for christmas. Him and I both love sad stories of the system gone wrong and how people are surviving it and fighting for good.

As a side note, I just love Dave Egger's commitment to oral history and all of his side projects where he is helping oral history and journalism draw attention to human rights crisis. I want to read every book in this series.
Apr 08, 2008 Lyn rated it really liked it
Four instead of five stars due to the confusing layout of the book. Sidebars are stuck in the middle of the people's stories; the book is not well-organized. HOWEVER...the stories are expressed in the victims' own words, and their tone will shatter you. They will also make you queasy and frankly ought to scare the shit out of you. Wrongful conviction could happen to anyone. It could even happen to you!
Mar 26, 2014 Anne rated it it was amazing
Shelves: crime
Awesome book. It made me think about how bad our criminal justice system can really be, and how people just want to make themselves look good, while not concerned about others.
Feb 17, 2010 Colin rated it really liked it
A compilation of moving first-person interviews with good supplemental sidebars, articles and appendixes about some of the monumental failures and continuing corruption of the "criminal justice" system.
Jan 31, 2013 Kathi rated it it was amazing
Incredible compilation of the oral histories of 16 of our countries wrongfully convicted. This collection of experiences drastically changed my prospective on our justice system.
Sep 20, 2013 Jamie rated it it was amazing
My mind was blown. I say 5 stars not mainly because I enjoyed it so much, but because I read this a few years, and I still think about it so often.
Jan 14, 2008 Brian rated it it was amazing
In their own words, 13 Americans tell the stories of how they were accidentally thrown in jail and eventually, thankfully, released.
Jul 13, 2013 Nicole rated it it was amazing
This is my worst nightmare. I'm serious - spiders are not even a close second to this. The system in this country is broken.
Aug 23, 2009 Karen rated it really liked it
I am now convinced that I will be falsely accused and convicted of a horrible crime at any given moment.
Dec 22, 2007 Green rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: anyone who wants to know more about the American judicial system
Extremely informative response to the question: How do innocent people end up in prison?
Apr 26, 2013 Janet rated it it was amazing
A chilling compendium of how this can happen to any of us.
Sara Phelps
Jan 09, 2012 Sara Phelps rated it really liked it
Highly disturbing, but worth the discomfort.
Mar 05, 2009 Megh rated it it was amazing
This book is a life changer.
Mary Steidler
Feb 08, 2015 Mary Steidler rated it it was amazing
a life-changing book
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