This stark tome, produced in concert with Barry Scheck and Peter Neufeld's Innocence Project, serves as both a preventive, educational tool and as advertorial. Dozens of freed inmates owe their recovered lives to the work of Scheck and Neufeld and their team, whose work is beyond commendation. — Jon Caramanica
[Simon] provides summaries for each case with its accompanying image -- vividly stylized re-creations of the scene of the arrest or misidentification, portraits with alibi witnesses or vignettes from the newly free lives of the wrongfully convicted. They alone do not tell us much about their subjects -- and that is part of the point.
Working to free convicts who are convinced that DNA evidence would exonerate them, the Innocence Project was founded by attorneys Peter Neufeld and Barry Scheck (of O.J. Simpson and nanny Louise Woodward fame) and is based at the Cardozo School of Law in New York City. The project has had a role in more than 100 overturned convictions, some of which are chronicled in Neufeld and Scheck's Actual Innocence: Five Days to Execution and other Dispatches from the Wrongly Convicted (2000) and now in this stunning book. A Guggenheim fellow who is not yet 30, Simon photographed 39 men and one woman whose convictions have been reversed or overturned, often taking the photos at the scenes of the crimes that they did not commit. Chris Ochoa stands, hands firmly on a handrail, outside the Pizza Hut in Austin, Tex., where a woman was raped and murdered, the victim's mother by his side. Charles Irvin Fain stands in the dark on the shore of the Snake River near Melba, Idaho, where a girl was abducted and murdered, lit from behind by the headlights of his truck. Calvin Washington stands, bathed in yellow lamp light, inside cabin 24 of the C&E Motel in Waco, Tex., where an informant claimed to have heard him confess to rape and murder; Simon photographs him from outside. Most of the men wear resolute expressions; most are minorities and come from modest backgrounds. Facing the portraits, commentary on the facts of the cases by Neufeld and Scheck is complemented by comments the subjects made in interviews with Simon. As Larry Youngblood notes, "[I]t's never going to be the same. Those years are lost. You can't get them back." Simon's incisive, perfectly composed full-page portraits, reproduced in sharp, clear relief, make that hauntingly clear. (June) Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
This volume contains 45 full-page color photographs and the stories of men and women who have had their wrongful convictions overturned during the ten years of the Innocence Project, an independent group of attorneys who, using DNA evidence, have been responsible for most of the post-conviction exonerations and who supply commentary here. Photographer Simon's portraits will be traveling to American museums through 2005. The photographs, which use muted tones of brown, green, and crimson, picture the individuals at the scenes of their alleged crimes, often to dramatic effect. The accompanying stories tell of the incidents or misidentifications surrounding their arrests and relate the often sordid details of their convictions. Taken as a whole, the volume is a criticism of the U.S. criminal justice system seen through the eyes of those who have come to know it best. An optional purchase for crime collections but an excellent purchase for arts collections.-Frances Sandiford, formerly with Green Haven Correctional Facility Lib., Stormville, NY Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.