America’s Wrongfully Convicted and Exonerated
Edited by Dave Eggers and Lola Vollen
Foreword by Scott Turow
“There is no amount of money they could give me to replace twenty years of my life… I missed my kids’ childhoods. I always wanted to be a father to them. They can’t give that back. I missed all of that.” – Exoneree Calvin Willis
In 2003, Calvin Willis walked out of Louisiana’s Angola State Prison after twenty-two years of wrongful incarceration for a crime he didn’t commit. He had no job, no money, and no apology from the system that took two decades out of his life. Left destitute, Willis had to fend for himself. Two years later, he’s still struggling.
Hundreds of men and women including 120 on death row have been released from America’s prisons in the last several years, after incontrovertible proof of their innocence emerged. Their trials were undermined by the myriad problems that plague criminal proceedings- inept defense lawyers, overzealous prosecutors, deceitful interrogation tactics, bad science, opportunistic informants, and faulty eyewitnesses. Their lives were effectively wrecked. Now, finally free, they’re facing a new set of problems, with little sympathy from society.
In Surviving Justice: America’s Wrongfully Convicted and Exonerated, thirteen exonerees describe their experiences- the events that led to their convictions, their years in prison, and their new lives outside. Each oral history is a stark account of our criminal justice system’s unforgivable flaws. Sidebars interspersed throughout the book offer context for their cases and the broader problem, with information on the causes of wrongful convictions and on the obstacles exonerees face in jail and after their release. Surviving Justice is an attempt to expose a disgraceful situation that continues throughout our country: men and women sent to prison for someone else’s crime.