Smoke but No Fire: Convicting the Innocent of Crimes that Never Happened

Smoke but No Fire: Convicting the Innocent of Crimes that Never Happened

by Jessica S. Henry

Hardcover(First Edition)

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The first book to explore a shocking yet all-too-common type of wrongful conviction—one that locks away innocent people for crimes that never actually happened.

Rodricus Crawford was convicted and sentenced to die for the murder by suffocation of his beautiful baby boy. After years on death row, evidence confirmed what Crawford had claimed all along: he was innocent, and his son had died from an undiagnosed illness.  Crawford is not alone. A full one-third of all known exonerations stem from no-crime wrongful convictions.

The first book to explore this common but previously undocumented type of wrongful conviction, Smoke but No Fire tells the heartbreaking stories of innocent people convicted of crimes that simply never happened. A suicide is mislabeled a homicide. An accidental fire is mislabeled an arson. Corrupt police plant drugs on an innocent suspect.  A false allegation of assault is invented to resolve a custody dispute. With this book, former New York City public defender Jessica S. Henry sheds essential light on a deeply flawed criminal justice system that allows—even encourages—these convictions to regularly occur. Smoke but No Fire promises to be eye-opening reading for legal professionals, students, activists, and the general public alike as it grapples with the chilling reality that far too many innocent people spend real years behind bars for fictional crimes.


Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780520300644
Publisher: University of California Press
Publication date: 08/04/2020
Edition description: First Edition
Pages: 264
Sales rank: 370,197
Product dimensions: 6.10(w) x 9.10(h) x 0.90(d)

About the Author

Jessica S. Henry was a public defender for nearly ten years in New York City before joining the Department of Justice Studies at Montclair State University, where she is Professor and a frequent commentator on national television, on radio, and in print media.

Table of Contents


Introduction: Phantom Crimes 
1 • Forensic Error: Misclassified Murders and Mislabeled Crimes 
2 • False Accusations: When Lies Become Courtroom Truths 
3 • Police: Crossing the “Thin Blue Line” 
4 • Prosecutors: Winning, at All Costs 
5 • Defense Lawyers: Drowning in Cases 
6 • Judges: Tilting the Scales of Justice 
7 • Misdemeanors: Not Minor Matters 
Conclusion: Clearing the Smoke 


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