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Cadaver King & Country Dentist > Wrongful Convictions

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message 1: by SCPL (new)

SCPL (st_catharines_public_library) | 542 comments Mod
The first chapters outline the rapes and murders of two young girls, Courtney Smith and Christine Jackson, and the two men wrongly convicted of their deaths, Levon Brooks and Kennedy Brewer, who spent a combined 30 years wrongfully imprisoned. These crimes were actually committed by a third man, Justin Johnson, who was known to police. If Johnson had been caught after the first murder, Christine Jackson wouldn’t have been killed.

In Canada, the most famous example of wrongful conviction is that of Steven Truscott, which you can read about on the Innocence Canada website:

Grisham states that wrongful conviction estimates range from 2 to 10 percent (ix). As I was reading, I was horrified by the decisions and circumstances that led to these wrongful convictions. What are your thoughts on wrongful convictions and their devastating consequences? What does this say about our Western criminal justice system? How difficult is it for a justice system to examine the mistakes it has made?

message 2: by Heidi (new)

Heidi Madden | 118 comments So I’m having a hard time getting into this book since it’s just such a depressing topic. Not exactly a beach read. ;) I wanted to comment on the first few chapters though. “Horrified” is the perfect word. I feel like this feeling could get worse as the book goes on as well.

I was absolutely horrified that these two men were allowed to…no, RELIED upon for shoddy science and used to imprison innocent people. I know the book is written with the benefit of hindsight but it just seems so incredibly obvious that they had the wrong people. The drive to “get our man” rather than getting the RIGHT man is part of what is to blame.

For the justice system to take responsibility for it’s own mistakes is terribly difficult. I feel like there is an extra level of difficulty in the US where so many of their officials are elected. I understand the reasoning – it’s good to have a say in who is put in power over you – but it turns these people into politicians and takes their attention away from just doing their job.

I’m pushing on with this book because I think it is fascinating and incredibly important but I can’t say I’m “enjoying” it.

message 3: by SCPL (new)

SCPL (st_catharines_public_library) | 542 comments Mod
Hi Heidi,

It is a serious read, especially in the summer. The subject matter is especially unpleasant I believe because the consequences of these officials' actions are so catastrophic for the people involved - both for the victims of crimes and for those unfairly punished for crimes they did not commit. It is terrifying that this CAN occur and one wonders where else it is occurring, even in Canada.

I agree with your statement with the added difficulty of elected officials. It would be difficult to overhaul the system or accept responsibility for these errors if one is acting foremost to get re-elected.

Hopefully you have more enjoyment reading this month's selection.

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