Barred: Why the Innocent Can't Get Out of Prison

Barred: Why the Innocent Can't Get Out of Prison

by Daniel S. Medwed
Barred: Why the Innocent Can't Get Out of Prison

Barred: Why the Innocent Can't Get Out of Prison

by Daniel S. Medwed


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A groundbreaking exposé of how our legal system makes it nearly impossible to overturn wrongful convictions 

Thousands of innocent people are behind bars in the United States. But proving their innocence and winning their release is nearly impossible. 
In Barred, legal scholar Daniel S. Medwed argues that our justice system’s stringent procedural rules are largely to blame for the ongoing punishment of the innocent. Those rules guarantee criminal defendants just one opportunity to appeal their convictions directly to a higher court. Afterward, the wrongfully convicted can pursue only a few narrow remedies. Even when there is strong evidence of a miscarriage of justice, rigid guidelines, bias, and deference toward lower courts all too often prevent exoneration. 
Offering clear explanations of legal procedures alongside heart-wrenching stories of their devastating impact, Barred exposes how the system is stacked against the innocent and makes a powerful call for change.  

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781541675919
Publisher: Basic Books
Publication date: 09/20/2022
Pages: 336
Sales rank: 520,733
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.30(h) x 1.30(d)

About the Author

Daniel S. Medwed is university distinguished professor of law and criminal justice at Northeastern University School of Law. A renowned innocence advocate, he is the author of  Prosecution Complex: America’s Race to Convict and Its Impact on the Innocent. He lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts. 

Table of Contents

Opening Statement 1

Part I On Appeal

1 Some Bargain: How Plea Deals Evade Scrutiny 15

2 Preserved for Review: The Narrow Mandate of Appellate Courts 35

3 In Deference: How Trial Judges, Defense Attorneys, and Jurors Get the Benefit of the Doubt on Appeal 53

4 Foul Play: The Harms of Harmless Error Analysis 83

Part II Postconviction Matters

5 The Not-So-Great Writ: Habeas Corpus and the Illusion of Robust Collateral Review 105

6 The Ancient Writ of Coram Nobis: An Old Tool to Tackle New Evidence 131

7 The Silver Bullet of Science: Flaws with State Postconviction DNA-Testing Laws 151

8 The Supremes: Stop in the Name of Innocence 165

Part III Executive Function

9 The Innocent Prisoner's Dilemma: How Parole Procedures Fail the Wrongfully Convicted 183

10 Not Just Mercy: The Untapped Potential of Clemency 197

Part IV A Path Forward

11 Prosecutors with Convictions: The Case for Internal Review Units 215

12 Commissioned for Justice: A New Model for Handling Innocence Claims 239

Closing Argument 255

Acknowledgments 265

Notes 269

Index 311

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