Monday, 18 June 2018

The Cadaver King and The Country Dentist: A True Story Of Injustice In The American South by Radley Balko and Tucker Carrington

Hardback:  Shame may restrain what law does not prohibit. - Seneca

After two three-year-old girls were raped and murdered in rural Mississippi, law enforcement pursued and convicted two innocent men:  Kennedy Brewer and Levon Brooks. Together they spent a combined thirty years in prison before finally being exonerated in 2008.

Meanwhile, the real killer remained free.

The Cadaver King and the Country Dentist chronicles how the courts and Mississippi's death investigation system - a relic of the Jim Crow era - failed to deliver justice for its citizens and recounts the horrifying story of the two men who built successful careers on the back of this system.

For nearly two decades, medical examiner Dr Steven Hayne performed the vast majority of Mississippi's autopsies, while his friend Dr. Michael West, a local dentist, pitched himself as a forensic jack-of-all-trades.  Together they became the go-to experts for prosecutors and helped put countless Mississippians in prison.  But then some of those convictions began to fall apart.

Radley Balko and Tucker Carrington argue that bad forensics, structural racism, and institutional failures are at fault, and raise sobering questions about our criminal justice system's ability to address them.

The Cadaver King and The Country Dentist (2018) - with a foreword by John Grisham - is a shocking and deeply reported account of the persistent plague of institutional racism and junk forensic science in our criminal justice system, and its devastating effect on innocent lives.

About the authors:  Radley Balko is an opinion journalist for the Washington Post and an investigative reporter.  He currently writes and edits The Watch, a reported opinion blog that covers civil liberties and the criminal justice system.  He is the author of the 2013 acclaimed book Rise of the Warrior Cop:  The Militarization of America's Police Forces, which has won widespread acclaim, including from the Economist, the New Yorker, the Wall Street Journal, and Publishers Weekly, and was named one of the best investigative journalism books of the year by the Nieman Foundation at Harvard University.  Since 2006, Balko has written dozens of pieces on Steven Hayne, Michael West and Mississippi's forensics disaster.  His January 2013 investigation, "Solving Kathy Mabry's Murder:  Brutal 15-Year-Old Crime Highlights Decades-Long Mississippi Scandal," was one of the most widely read Huffington Post articles of 2013.  In 2015, Balko was awarded the Innocence Project's Journalism Award, in part for his coverage in Mississippi.

Tucker Carrington is the director of the George C Cochran Innocence Project at the University of Mississippi School of Law.  He has spent his career as a criminal defense lawyer, much of it as a public defender in Washington DC.

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