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 t only homicide, but also sexual assault, drug dealing, and nviolent 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 incent to be judged guilty.
Marvin D. Free, Jr., is professor of sociology at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater, USA. 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, USA.