When Justice Fails

Causes and Consequences of Wrongful Convictions

Second Edition

by Robert J. Norris, Catherine L. Bonventre, James R. Acker

Tags: Criminal Law, Criminal Procedure, Death Penalty/Capital Punishment, Wrongful Conviction

Table of Contents (PDF)

Teacher's Manual available

380 pp  $65.00

ISBN 978-1-5310-2363-8
eISBN 978-1-5310-2364-5

10% discount and free ground shipping within the United States for all orders over $50

Add to Cart

Wrongful convictions have become a prominent concern in state and federal systems of justice. As thousands of innocent prisoners have been freed in the United States in the past few decades, social science researchers and legal actors have produced a wealth of new insights about how and why mistakes occur and what can be done to help prevent further injustices.

When Justice Fails surveys the field of innocence scholarship to offer an overview of the key research, legal, and policy issues associated with wrongful convictions. Topics include the leading sources of error, no-crime wrongful convictions, the detection and correction of miscarriages of justice, the aftermath of wrongful convictions, and more. The volume includes references to historic and contemporary instances of miscarriages of justice and presents information gleaned from media sources about the cases and related policy issues. The book is ideally suited for use in undergraduate classes which focus on wrongful convictions and the administration of justice, and can be used in graduate classes, as well.

The second edition includes a new chapter on the social context of wrongful convictions, including historical and contemporary issues related to politics, race, and gender. Also, there are now separate chapters for false confessions and pleas (rather than one combined chapter, as in the first edition). The text has been updated throughout with revisions to case narratives, research summaries, and legal and policy issues. Finally, new material has been added focusing on conviction integrity units, the risk of wrongful executions, juvenile justice, and additional future challenges confronting innocence researchers and policymakers.

There is also a set of 145 PowerPoint slides available upon adoption. Click here to view a sample presentation. If you are a professor using this book for a class, please contact Beth at bhall@cap-press.com to request your slides.

When Justice Fails provides readers with a clear and comprehensive explanation of factors that produce wrongful convictions and the consequences of convicting innocent defendants. Written by leading innocence scholars, it explains the legal framework within which miscarriages of justice occur. This readable text not only reviews past research but offers an innovative perspective of the broader social, racial, and gender elements that shape our understanding of wrongful convictions. It is a valuable source for students and readers seeking a thoughtful explanation of the troubling phenomenon of wrongful convictions."

— Marvin Zalman, Professor of Criminology and Criminal Justice, Wayne State University

"Norris, Bonventre, and Acker once again offer students current and comprehensive exploration into wrongful convictions. They adeptly cover the causes and the consequences of wrongful convictions with a humane consideration towards the people who endure these judicial disasters. Furthermore, students will benefit from the discussions about policy reform and remedy offered throughout this important text. I cannot recommend it highly enough!"

— Kimberly Cook, Professor of Sociology and Criminology, UNC-Wilmington

"When Justice Fails offers a penetrating and comprehensive review of the research, legal, and policy issues that explain how and why wrongful convictions occur and what can be done to help prevent, detect, and correct them. By organizing chapters around key research, legal, and policy issues, the authors provide a valuable resource for students and scholars in criminology, law, and beyond."

— Jon Gould, Professor and Dean of Social Ecology, UC-Irvine

"Norris, Bonventre, and Acker, three preeminent scholars in the study of wrongful conviction, have accomplished the difficult task of improving upon their already comprehensive first edition of this book. With new material and chapters, undergraduate students will again have at their fingertips the most up-to-date knowledge about these miscarriages of justice, and will continue to benefit from the accessible writing style and the inclusion of the unbelievable but true real-life case examples."

— Allison Redlich, Professor of Criminology, Law, and Society, George Mason University
When Justice Fails: Causes and Consequences is my consistent choice for an undergraduate wrongful conviction textbook. Written in clear and accessible prose, the book provides a comprehensive, detailed, interdisciplinary exploration of the factors that contribute to wrongful convictions, the social and human costs of convicting the innocent, and potential policy reforms for reducing their prevalence. Each chapter sets out specific learning objectives, includes thought-provoking discussion questions, and contains compelling case studies of innocent men and women wrongly convicted of crimes they did not commit. The second edition is notable for its historical and social context in the study of wrongful convictions, particularly as it relates to race, class, and politics. When Justice Fails is an outstanding undergraduate textbook on wrongful convictions that I will continue to assign for semesters to come."

— Jessica Henry, Professor of Justice Studies, Montclair State University

Comp Copy If you are a professor teaching in this field you may request a complimentary copy.