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An Expendable Man: The Near-Execution of Earl Washington, Jr. / Edition 1

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New York, NY 2003 Hard cover Good. Glued binding. Paper over boards. With dust jacket. 243 p. Contains: Illustrations.

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New York University (NYU) Press, 2003. 1st printing / edition. Hardcover. Notes. Recommended Reading. Index. Fine in Fine dust jacket in protective mylar. Bright, tight and ... clean; no names, marks or jacket wear. ISBN: 0814722229. Read more Show Less

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New York, New York, U.S.A. 2003 Hard Cover First Printing Fine in Fine jacket 8vo-over 7?"-9?" Tall. "AN EXPENDABLE MAN shows the heavy handedness with which our society deals ... with those it deems expendable. It demonstrates how the politics of the death penalty skews our moral compass ans how a small gfroup of volunteers toiled for many years to set it straight for one expendable man. Whatever your position on the death penalty, if you want to know how it actually works, read this book. " {Sister Helen Prejean}. This book has 243 pages. Read more Show Less

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Overview

How is it possible for an innocent man to come within nine days of execution? An Expendable Man answers that question through detailed analysis of the case of Earl Washington Jr., a mentally retarded, black farm hand who was convicted of the 1983 rape and murder of a 19-year-old mother of three in Culpeper, Virginia. He spent almost 18 years in Virginia prisons—9 1/2 of them on death row—for a murder he did not commit.

This book reveals the relative ease with which individuals who live at society's margins can be wrongfully convicted, and the extraordinary difficulty of correcting such a wrong once it occurs.

Washington was eventually freed in February 2001 not because of the legal and judicial systems, but in spite of them. While DNA testing was central to his eventual pardon, such tests would never have occurred without an unusually talented and committed legal team and without a series of incidents that are best described as pure luck.

Margaret Edds makes the chilling argument that some other “expendable men” almost certainly have been less fortunate than Washington. This, she writes, is “the secret, shameful underbelly” of America's retention of capital punishment. Such wrongful executions may not happen often, but anyone who doubts that innocent people have been executed in the United States should remember the remarkable series of events necessary to save Earl Washington Jr. from such a fate.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

“Edds’s powerful telling of Washington's experience uses court documents, personal interviews, and a variety of other sources to illustrate the political and social circumstances surrounding this extraordinary case. This book invites the reader to think about how due process is carried out and implemented. An Expendable Man is a valuable study of not only the Virginia legal system, but also that of the United States.”

-Virginia Libraries

,

“Somewhere between the personal narratives found in H. Bruce Franklin’s collection Prison Writing in 20th-Century America, the critical work of Mumia Abu-Jamal, and the recent profusion of sociological studies of America's accelerated prison economy, An Expendable Man gives us a moving portrait of a broad-based struggle on behalf of one man, and implies ways in which the halls of justice might become more just.”
-Trial & Error

,

“Best work of non-fiction about Virginia or by a Virginia author.”
-Manasas Journal Messenger

,

“Explores the dark side of the system of capital punishment. The book not only goes into great detail in recording Earl Washington, Jr.’s near-execution but also incorporates some history of the Virginia legal system.”
-Criminal Justice Review

,

“The book is provocative for its vivid characterization and its study of the death penalty’s inherent flaws.”
- Newport News Press

,

Library Journal
In 1983, Earl Washington, an impoverished, mentally retarded black farmhand, was convicted of the rape and murder of a white woman in Culpepper, VA. Washington spent 18 years in prison-nine of them on death row-with the sanction of the U.S. Supreme Court. Through the efforts of a fellow death row inmate, who gained the attention of a New York law firm, Washington was pardoned on DNA evidence. This book, written by a Virginia Pilot reporter who interviewed Washington, recounts the process by which the pardon came about. By no means unbiased journalism, the book contends that individulals like Washington are considered expendable by the American justice system. One of the unique features of the book is its detailed explanation of the death penalty procedure in Virginia, which is second only to Texas in its number of executions. Since Washington's case is not well known, the book may not attract the general reader, but it is well worth a place in larger crime collections.-Frances Sandiford, formerly with Green Haven Correctional Facility Lib., Stormville, NY Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780814722220
  • Publisher: New York University Press
  • Publication date: 8/1/2003
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 243
  • Product dimensions: 5.90 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

As a reporter and now editorial writer for the Virginian-Pilot, the state's largest paper, Margaret Edds interviewed Earl Washington Jr. extensively and worked closely with his attorneys and all the principles of the case. She is the author of two critically acclaimed books on southern and African American issues, Free at Last and Claiming the Dream: The Victorious Campaign of Douglas Wilder of Virginia.

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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments ix
Timeline xi
1 Countdown 1
2 Death in Culpeper 10
3 A Piedmont Son 16
4 Arrest 27
5 Confessions 35
6 The Trial 45
7 Prisoner 69
8 Deadline 83
9 A Discovery 96
10 Appeals 113
11 Strategies 130
12 An Ending 152
13 Revival 166
14 Freedom Delayed 184
15 The Aftermath 196
Notes 213
Recommended Reading 231
Index 235
About the Author 243
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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted August 18, 2003

    The End Of Innocence

    The End of Innocence refers to this reader's reaction to this book. Until reading this book I believed that the law had protections for the innocent. When accused unjustly I wondered why you wouldn't talk to the police. I thought that low-income people were afforded enough protection. I did not want to think that the mentally retarded were not afforded special protections. My innocence is gone. I contrast the near outcome of the Earl Washington case with the outcomes of other cases where the defendant was well to do and I shudder to think of many potential travesties of justice. The power of this book was enhanced for me because the author did not select someone who was without fault. I believe that people should read this book and discuss the reforms proposed. The book is well written and interesting and I consider it a must read.

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