Summer reads about injustice and resilience

Ranging from educational stories about how wrongful convictions are achieved and maintained to the inspiring tales of the people who survive them, check out the Montana Innocence Project’s summer reading list below:

Smoke but No Fire” By: Jessica S. Henry

“Smoke but No Fire” details the all-too-common phenomenon of innocent people being wrongfully convicted of crimes that never happened. Henry tells the story of Rodricus Crawford who was wrongfully convicted of his son’s death and later freed when it was revealed his son died from an unknown diagnosis. Learn how one-third of overturned convictions stem from no-crime wrongful convictions.

Purchase here.

“Solitary: Unbroken by four decades in solitary confinement. My story of transformation and hope.” By: Albert Woodfox

“Solitary” is the life story of Albert Woodfox who spent 40 years in solitary confinement at Louisiana’s infamous Angoloa Prison—the longest reported time of any incarcerated person in U.S. history. Woodfox was serving a sentence for robbery when a white prison guard was killed in the prison. Woodfox and another incarcerated Black Panthers member were accused with no evidence and transferred to solitary confinement for the next four decades. Woodfox, whose conviction was overturned in 2016, tells his story of maintaining his spirit in some of the most inhumane conditions.

Purchase here.

Junk Science and the American Criminal Justice System By: M. Chris Fabricant

In “Junk Science and the American Criminal Justice System,” Fabricant tells the story of three clients who were all convicted of capital murder based on junk science and his efforts with the Innocence Project to free them. Recounting courtroom battles in Mississippi, Texas, and New York, Fabricant describes the ways in which junk science upholds a racist criminal legal system.

Purchase here.

Barred: Why the Innocent Can’t Get Out of Prison” By: Daniel Medwed

Legal scholar Daniel Medwed describes how the criminal legal system’s stringent procedural rules are largely responsible for the perpetuation of wrongful convictions even when there is overwhelming evidence of innocence. Medwed details the legal hurdles innocent people must face to achieve freedom and shows how the system fails the wrongfully convicted and their families.

Purchase here.

“The Sun Does Shine” By: Anthony Ray Hinton

Hinton inspires with his story of wrongful conviction and how he overcame 30 years on death row. He was sentenced to death by electrocution for a 1985 double-murder in Alabama. Once he accepted his fate, Hinton found a way to not only survive but make a life on death row. He was a beacon of hope for his fellow prisoners—54 of whom were executed feet away from him. Freed by renown civil rights lawyer Bryan Stevenson, Hinton writes about how you can take away someone’s freedom but not their humanity.

Purchase here.