The 1989 Central Park jogger case resulted in the wrongful convictions of five teens, Yusef Salaam, Kevin Richardson, Antron McCray, Raymond, Santana, and Korey Wise, known as The Exonerated Five. In 2002 their convictions were overturned based on DNA evidence. In 2014 The Exonerated Five settled a civil suit against New York City for $41 million.
The Central Park Five by Sarah BurnsA riveting, in-depth account of one of New York City’s most notorious crimes. On April 20, 1989, the body of a woman is discovered in Central Park, her skull so badly smashed that nearly 80 percent of her blood has spilled onto the ground. Within days, five black and Latino teenagers confess to her rape and beating. In a city where urban crime is at a high and violence is frequent, the ensuing media frenzy and hysterical public reaction is extraordinary. The young men are tried as adults and convicted of rape, despite the fact that the teens quickly recant their inconsistent and inaccurate confessions and that no DNA tests or eyewitness accounts tie any of them to the victim. They serve their complete sentences before another man, serial rapist Matias Reyes, confesses to the crime and is connected to it by DNA testing. Intertwining the stories of these five young men, the police officers, the district attorneys, the victim, and Matias Reyes, Sarah Burns unravels the forces that made both the crime and its prosecution possible. Most dramatically, she gives us a portrait of a city already beset by violence and deepening rifts between races and classes, whose law enforcement, government, social institutions, and media were undermining the very rights of the individuals they were designed to safeguard and protect.
Publication Date: 2011-05-17
Savage Portrayals by Natalie ByfieldIn 1989, the rape and beating of a white female jogger in Central Park made international headlines. Many accounts reported the incident as an example of "wilding"--episodes of poor, minority youths roaming the streets looking for trouble. Police intent on immediate justice for the victim coerced five African-American and Latino boys to plead guilty. The teenage boys were quickly convicted and imprisoned. Natalie Byfield, who covered the case for the New York Daily News, now revisits the story of the Central Park Five from her perspective as a black female reporter in Savage Portrayals. Byfield illuminates the race, class, and gender bias in the massive media coverage of the crime and the prosecution of the now-exonerated defendants. Her sociological analysis and first-person account persuasively argue that the racialized reportage of the case buttressed efforts to try juveniles as adults across the nation. Savage Portrayals casts new light on this famous crime and its far-reaching consequences for the wrongly accused and the justice system.
Publication Date: 2014-01-01
The New Jim Crow by Michelle AlexanderDespite the triumphant dismantling of the Jim Crow Laws, the system that once forced African Americans into a segregated second-class citizenship still haunts America, the US criminal justice system still unfairly targets black men and an entire segment of the population is deprived of their basic rights. Outside of prisons, a web of laws and regulations discriminates against these wrongly convicted ex-offenders in voting, housing, employment and education. Alexander here offers an urgent call for justice.
Publication Date: 2010-01-05
Race and Justice by Marvin D. Free; Mitch RuesinkThis book will be the definitive scholarly reference on this topic and a must-read for anyone interested in miscarriages of justice. Essential.¿ ¿Choice
¿A good choice for academic collections and public libraries where social issues are of interest.¿ ¿Rebecca Vnuk, Booklist
¿Insightful and well-researched.... an important contribution. Free and Ruesink¿s approach provides much needed context for the large number of wrongful conviction cases involving African Americans.¿ ¿Shaun Gabbidon, Pennsylvania State University Harrisburg
In this investigation of some 350 wrongful convictions of African American men, Marvin Free and Mitch Ruesink critically examine how issues of race undercut the larger goals of our criminal justice system.
Free and Ruesink expand the focus of wrongful conviction studies to include not only homicide, but also sexual assault, drug dealing, and nonviolent crime. Their careful analysis reveals that black men accused of crimes against white victims account for a disproportionate number of wrongful convictions. They also uncover other disturbing failings on the part of prosecutors, police, witnesses, and informants. Highlighting the systemic role of race, the authors challenge us to move past the ¿just a few bad apples¿ explanation and to instead examine what it is about our criminal justice system that allows the innocent to be judged guilty.
Marvin D. Free, Jr., is professor of sociology at the University of Wisconsin¿Whitewater. He is coauthor of Crime, Justice, and Society and editor of Racial Issues in Criminal Justice: The Case of African Americans. Mitch Ruesink teaches psychology at Waukesha County Technical College.
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