By: Rob Warden & Steven A. Drizin
Published Year: 2009
Publisher: Northwestern University Press
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Summary (Provided by Goodreads): Editors Rob Warden and Steven Drizin—leaders in the field of wrongful convictions—have gathered articles about some of the most critical accounts of false confessions in the U.S. justice system from more than forty authors, including Sydney H. Schanberg, Christine Ellen Young, Alex Kotlowitz, and John Grisham. Many of the pieces originally appeared in leading magazines and newspapers, including the New York Times, The Nation, the New Yorker, and the Los Angeles Times.
By grouping the cases into categories—including brainwashing, fabrication, mental fragility, police force, and unrequited innocence—the editors demonstrate similarities between cases, thereby refuting the perception that false confessions represent individual tragedies rather than a systemic flaw in the justice system. These incidents are not isolated; they are, in fact, related, and more shocking for it. But the authors of the articles excerpted, adapted, and reprinted in this collection want more for their subjects than outrage; they want to fuel change in the practices and standards that illicit false confessions in the first place. To this end, Warden and Drizin include an illuminating introduction to each category and recommendations for policy changes that would reduce false confessions. They also include a postscript for each case, providing legal updates and additional information.
Shortly after finishing my binge watch of Making a Murderer, I saw a list (can’t remember where) of books to read if you enjoyed watching Making a Murderer. Of course I was interested and added about 5 of them to my list. This was one of the top ones I wanted to read, so I was really excited to read this.
What I thought
One of my goals this year, was to read more books outside of my comfort zone. This was one of those books and it was fascinating and upsetting all at the same time, almost exactly like Making a Murderer. True Stories is composed of articles from throughout the years of false confessions. It is divided by different types of interrogations or reasons that cause false confessions, such as mental impairment or child abuse.
Full disclosure- I did not read this book cover to cover. I read the first bunch of sections all the way through, and then I started picking and choosing. There were definitely sections that I found more interesting than others, so those were the ones I spent the most amount of time on. I don’t think this is a book that you have to read from beginning to end in order to enjoy it. It was absolutely fascinating and unlike anything I had read before.
The toughest part about this book was seeing how corrupt the justice system can be. I think a lot of the time we think that these errors and false confessions come from a long time ago, but a lot of these stories were within the past 10-20 years. Each story that was told was pulled from an article that was written either while the case was occurring, shortly after it occurred, or when the wrongly accused had been brought back into the public eye. I felt like this was such an interesting way to read about the stories, because you felt as if you were learning about it as it happened. The authors then included an epilogue after the article to inform the reader of what happened after the initial article was published. Unfortunately, not all of these cases received a happy ending.
By: Rob Warden & Steven A. Drizin