“PROSECUTION COMPLEX: America’s Race to Convict and its Impact on the Innocent,” by Daniel S. Medwed, New York University Press, $39, 229 pages (nf)
“Prosecution Complex: America’s Race to Convict and its Impact on the Innocent” by University of Utah law professor Daniel S. Medwed is a gripping account about how prosecutors can convict innocent people in criminal cases.
Medwed begins the book by providing actual accounts of people he says were wrongfully sent to prison for crimes they didn't commit. He gives vivid details of a case tried in 1982 in Dallas. James Giles, an African-American man, was accused of raping a white pregnant woman multiple times. He was sentenced to 30 years in prison, and after serving 10 years was given parole.
Giles was eventually deemed innocent of any wrongdoing because of advanced DNA testing and further police investigation into his case.
Medwed starts with that story to try to show that unfair convictions happen because prosecutors can make harmful decisions in their attempt to be champions for the alleged victims.
The role of the prosecutor is explained throughout the book. Medwed argues that the U.S.'s legal system needs to implement appropriate safeguards to make sure prosecutors practice the law free of bias. To further this point, Medwed discusses the famous Duke Lacrosse case from 2006 in which three members of the Duke Lacrosse team were accused of rape but all charges against them were later dropped.
Though interesting and informational “Prosecution Complex” will appeal mostly to those who are familiar with the law and its inner workings. It is a difficult read for those who are not familiar with legal words and phrases.
All in all, “Prosecution Complex” is an enlightening book that tackles an issue many tend to shy away from because it's difficult to admit the U.S.'s legal system can make such drastic mistakes.
Medwed tackles the topic and offers solutions. Critically, he encourages prosecutors to think differently, use forensic evidence wisely and be open to disciplinary actions.
if you go ...
What: Daniel Medwed book signing
When: Wednesday, April 18, 7 p.m.
Where: The King's English, 1511 S. 1500 East, Salt Lake City
Shelby Scoffield is a graduate of Brigham Young University and a graduate student at California State University, Stanislaus.