Scheck, Neufeld, Dwyer

Actual Innocence

By Scheck - Neufeld
October 6, 2000 2:26AM (UTC)
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"Actual Innocence: Five Days to Execution, and Other Dispatches from the Wrongly Convicted" by Barry Scheck, Peter Neufeld, and Jim Dwyer[BDD Audio].

You're glancing through your morning paper when you see a story about a terrible assault in your neighborhood. Included in the story is a physical description of the suspect, and that description sounds a lot like you. Suddenly the police knock at your door and ask you about your whereabouts the night before. You were home alone. You spoke to no one. You own a red jacket like the perpetrator. You're dragged down to the police station, questioned for hours, hauled in front of a line-up. The victim swears you're the man who assaulted her. And so, after a two-day trial, you're sentenced to twenty years in jail. You're innocent. But with the whole criminal justice system arrayed against you, how can you prove it?


Far-fetched? It happened to Tony Snyder, in Alexandria, Virginia. Unfortunately, such scenarios occur every day in this country. Lazy police officers, crusading and hostile district attorneys, shaken and unreliable witnesses, coerced false confessions, corrupt crime labs, lying jailhouse snitches, biased juries -- all of these obstacles confront the wrongfully accused in a criminal justice system geared more to get a conviction than get at the truth.

This powerful book tells the story of innocent people put in prison because one or another aspect of the system failed. In each case, the lawyers of the Innocence Project worked pro-bono to free these individuals, a struggle that can take years, even after DNA evidence has definitively cleared the suspects.

Barry Scheck and Peter Neufeld founded and direct the Innocence Project, which currently represents more than two hundred inmates seeking post-conviction release through DNA testing. Perhaps the most prominent civil rights lawyers in America, Scheck and Neufeld represent the family of Amadou Diallo, Abner Louima, and the four black and latino youths wrongfully shot by NY State Troopers. Jim Dwyer is the two-time Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist for the New York Daily News. Recently, his exclusive reports on a New Jersey Turnpike shooting prompted a special grand jury investigation of racial profiling by state troopers.





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