From the front lines of the wrongful conviction capital of the United StatesCook County, Ill.these stories reveal serious gaps in the criminal justice system. Read more...
From the front lines of the wrongful conviction capital of the United StatesCook County, Ill.these stories reveal serious gaps in the criminal justice system. Flowers depicts the collateral damage of wrongful convictions on families and communities, challenging the deeper problem of mass incarceration in the United States. As she tells each exoneree s powerful story, Flowers vividly shows that release from prison, though sometimes joyous and hopeful, is not a Hollywood endingor an ending at all. Rather, an exoneree s first unshackled steps are the beginning of a new journey full of turmoil and triumph.
Based on Chicago Public Media s yearlong multimedia seriesa finalist for a national Online Journalism Awardthis narrative piece of investigative journalism tells profoundly human stories of reclaiming one s life, overcoming adversity, and searching for purposeat times with devastating consequences and courageous breakthroughs.
Publishers Weekly® Reviews
- Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
- Review Date: 2016-04-25
- Reviewer: Staff
Flowers, an investigative reporter based in Chicago, offers four vivid, in-depth ethnographic portraits of exonerated prisoners, three of who are from Cook County, Ill.—an area known for its exceedingly high rate of wrongful convictions. Flowers profiles a single mother wrongly convicted of the accidental death of her three-year-old in a trailer fire, a gang member mistakenly picked out of a lineup for a murder charge, a 22-year-old handyman incarcerated on fabricated evidence for arson in a fire where six people perished, and a musician and homemaker set up on a murder charge. She also introduces a Chicago detective with “a city-wide reputation for manipulating lineups and coercing witnesses,” a corrupt police chief who was later incarcerated for lying about police torture, and, on the other side, the lawyers and organizations that work tirelessly to overturn wrongful convictions, such as Northwestern University’s Center on Wrongful Convictions and the Exoneration Project at the University of Chicago. All four exonerees each spent at least a decade in prison, and Flowers highlights how little it took to erroneously convict them as well as the struggle to overcome the stigma of having been in prison as they try to find employment and housing. Through these searing portraits, readers will witness the fissures in the criminal justice system and the damage they cause to the wrongfully convicted, their families, and their communities. (June)