Exonerated: A History of the Innocence Movement

Exonerated: A History of the Innocence Movement

by Robert J. Norris


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The fascinating story behind the innocence movement's quest for justice.

Documentaries like Making a Murderer, the first season of Serial, and the cause célèbre that was the West Memphis Three captured the attention of millions and focused the national discussion on wrongful convictions. This interest is warranted: more than 1,800 people have been set free in recent decades after being convicted of crimes they did not commit.

In response to these exonerations, federal and state governments have passed laws to prevent such injustices; lawyers and police have changed their practices; and advocacy organizations have multiplied across the country. Together, these activities are often referred to as the “innocence movement.” Exonerated provides the first in-depth look at the history of this movement through interviews with key leaders such as Barry Scheck and Rob Warden as well as archival and field research into the major cases that brought awareness to wrongful convictions in the United States.

Robert Norris also examines how and why the innocence movement took hold. He argues that while the innocence movement did not begin as an organized campaign, scientific, legal, and cultural developments led to a widespread understanding that new technology and renewed investigative diligence could both catch the guilty and free the innocent.

Exonerated reveals the rich background story to this complex movement.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781479821990
Publisher: New York University Press
Publication date: 02/05/2019
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 304
Sales rank: 1,217,250
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x (d)

About the Author

Robert J. Norris is Assistant Professor in the Department of Criminology, Law, and Society at George Mason University.

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments ix

Introduction: Innocence and the Criminal Justice System 1

Part I The History of The Innocence Movement

1 "Voices in the Wilderness": The Beginning of Innocence 13

2 "A Eureka Moment": DNA, the Legal System, and the Meaning of Innocence 30

3 "We're All Together on This": Expanding the Network, Becoming a Movement 72

Part II Innocence As A Social Movement

4 "It Did Go against the Grain": The Foundations of a Movement 115

5 "It's Just Justice … Real Justice": The Emergence of a Movement 140

6 The "New Civil Rights"? Reaching beyond Innocence 163

Conclusion: The Challenges Ahead and the Future of Innocence 181

Appendix: Data, Methods, and Limitations 215

Notes 225

References 261

Index 279

About the Author 289

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