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Blind Injustice: A Former Prosecutor Exposes the Psychology and Politics of Wrongful Convictions

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Awarded Digital Book World's Best Book Published by a University Press In this unprecedented view from the trenches, prosecutor turned champion for the innocent Mark Godsey takes us inside the frailties of the human mind as they unfold in real-world wrongful convictions. Drawing upon stories from his own career, Godsey shares how innate psychological flaws in judges, polic Awarded Digital Book World's Best Book Published by a University Press In this unprecedented view from the trenches, prosecutor turned champion for the innocent Mark Godsey takes us inside the frailties of the human mind as they unfold in real-world wrongful convictions. Drawing upon stories from his own career, Godsey shares how innate psychological flaws in judges, police, lawyers, and juries coupled with a "tough on crime" environment can cause investigations to go awry, leading to the convictions of innocent people. In Blind Injustice, Godsey explores distinct psychological human weaknesses inherent in the criminal justice system--confirmation bias, memory malleability, cognitive dissonance, bureaucratic denial, dehumanization, and others--and illustrates each with stories from his time as a hard-nosed prosecutor and then as an attorney for the Ohio Innocence Project. He also lays bare the criminal justice system's internal political pressures. How does the fact that judges, sheriffs, and prosecutors are elected officials influence how they view cases? How can defense attorneys support clients when many are overworked and underpaid? And how do juries overcome bias leading them to believe that police and expert witnesses know more than they do about what evidence means? This book sheds a harsh light on the unintentional yet routine injustices committed by those charged with upholding justice. Yet in the end, Godsey recommends structural, procedural, and attitudinal changes aimed at restoring justice to the criminal justice system.


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Awarded Digital Book World's Best Book Published by a University Press In this unprecedented view from the trenches, prosecutor turned champion for the innocent Mark Godsey takes us inside the frailties of the human mind as they unfold in real-world wrongful convictions. Drawing upon stories from his own career, Godsey shares how innate psychological flaws in judges, polic Awarded Digital Book World's Best Book Published by a University Press In this unprecedented view from the trenches, prosecutor turned champion for the innocent Mark Godsey takes us inside the frailties of the human mind as they unfold in real-world wrongful convictions. Drawing upon stories from his own career, Godsey shares how innate psychological flaws in judges, police, lawyers, and juries coupled with a "tough on crime" environment can cause investigations to go awry, leading to the convictions of innocent people. In Blind Injustice, Godsey explores distinct psychological human weaknesses inherent in the criminal justice system--confirmation bias, memory malleability, cognitive dissonance, bureaucratic denial, dehumanization, and others--and illustrates each with stories from his time as a hard-nosed prosecutor and then as an attorney for the Ohio Innocence Project. He also lays bare the criminal justice system's internal political pressures. How does the fact that judges, sheriffs, and prosecutors are elected officials influence how they view cases? How can defense attorneys support clients when many are overworked and underpaid? And how do juries overcome bias leading them to believe that police and expert witnesses know more than they do about what evidence means? This book sheds a harsh light on the unintentional yet routine injustices committed by those charged with upholding justice. Yet in the end, Godsey recommends structural, procedural, and attitudinal changes aimed at restoring justice to the criminal justice system.

30 review for Blind Injustice: A Former Prosecutor Exposes the Psychology and Politics of Wrongful Convictions

  1. 5 out of 5

    Janet Uhlar

    Having witnessed judicial corruption first-hand as a juror in the trial of Irish mob boss Whitey Bulger, I was compelled to write my own book about the trial and what I discovered after (The Truth Be Damned, 2018) Since the publication of The Truth Be Damned, I have received many letters from inmates in state and federal prisons, thanking me for speaking out about judicial corruption. One prisoner recommended former District Attorney Mark Godsey's book, Blind Injustice. This book is a must read for Having witnessed judicial corruption first-hand as a juror in the trial of Irish mob boss Whitey Bulger, I was compelled to write my own book about the trial and what I discovered after (The Truth Be Damned, 2018) Since the publication of The Truth Be Damned, I have received many letters from inmates in state and federal prisons, thanking me for speaking out about judicial corruption. One prisoner recommended former District Attorney Mark Godsey's book, Blind Injustice. This book is a must read for any citizen concerned about reform of the judicial and prison system! This book is a must read for any citizen who believes that our Constitutional rights are in danger! Thank you, Mark Godsey!

  2. 4 out of 5

    Anastasia

    As someone who is very into true crime, this is one thing that a lot of us do not realize as we watch shows such as Forensic Files. Many times, when we see the sensationalized cases on our podcasts, we forget that the bite mark "evidence" does not hold up to scrutiny by the scientific process. This book does a wonderful job of pulling us to the other side of the fence. It boldly exposes behind the scenes secrets that many of us not in law professions do not realize take place. From downright con As someone who is very into true crime, this is one thing that a lot of us do not realize as we watch shows such as Forensic Files. Many times, when we see the sensationalized cases on our podcasts, we forget that the bite mark "evidence" does not hold up to scrutiny by the scientific process. This book does a wonderful job of pulling us to the other side of the fence. It boldly exposes behind the scenes secrets that many of us not in law professions do not realize take place. From downright conspiracies against defendants to simple human nature, this book really delves into why people are convicted of crimes they never committed. Crimes they may not even have been in the state for when they were committed. It is difficult to picture why an innocent, or at least not guilty, person must be scrutinized by trial. However, this shows how bad police work and political system works against the innocent and for resolution to cases. I would recommend this to anyone interested in law, especially if they are used to seeing things from a prosecutor's angle. Just be prepared to be disappointed, frustrated, and even angry.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Kate Fitzgerald

    An Innocence Project lawyer who previously worked as a prosecutor reviews the many unethical practices that lead to wrongful convictions. This is a very interesting, quick read (224 pages). He discusses the psychology behind false confessions and incorrect eyewitness testimony; the lack of science behind most forensic techniques; the general misconceptions about memory and how it works; and the standard practice of court-appointed attorneys not investigating leads that could help their clients' An Innocence Project lawyer who previously worked as a prosecutor reviews the many unethical practices that lead to wrongful convictions. This is a very interesting, quick read (224 pages). He discusses the psychology behind false confessions and incorrect eyewitness testimony; the lack of science behind most forensic techniques; the general misconceptions about memory and how it works; and the standard practice of court-appointed attorneys not investigating leads that could help their clients' cases. He shares real examples: people who were wrongly convicted, the often ridiculously thin evidence that convicted them, and the typical reactions of prosecutors, even after DNA has proved innocence. Some of the issues he brought up I was well aware of, and some were pretty surprising, but I think there are many Americans who would be shocked by most if not all of his findings. And, because he's a former prosecutor who has experience on both sides (and he calls out his own bad behavior), I think this would be credible to someone who would otherwise be skeptical. He also offers a lot of suggestions as to how we could reform the system, some of which are already being used in other countries or specific states.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Joanna

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. This was an interesting read, though I had hoped it would add to my knowledge of wrongful convictions in a way which it did not. So I think this book is definitely more suited for people with limited knowledge, not someone who works in this field as I do. However, this book did provide a terrifying insight into the minds of prosecutors, even our author who seems to have seen the light and realises how fallible the criminal justice system he makes many excuses for the poor and downright criminal This was an interesting read, though I had hoped it would add to my knowledge of wrongful convictions in a way which it did not. So I think this book is definitely more suited for people with limited knowledge, not someone who works in this field as I do. However, this book did provide a terrifying insight into the minds of prosecutors, even our author who seems to have seen the light and realises how fallible the criminal justice system he makes many excuses for the poor and downright criminal behaviour of law enforcement and criminal justice practitioners. He by in large takes the position that these people who knowingly and willfully put their own careers and reputations before justice are not bad people who mean to cause harm. While I don't believe every practitioner that makes a bad choice is a bad person he fails to truly condemn the people who are. These practitioners are adults who presumably went through some kind of criminology based education and therefore there is no excuse for this behaviour. Also while I'm glad he at least acknowledged institutional racism at the beginning of the book I think it is absolutely a cop-out to say 'its too big of an issue so just know its an issue but I'm not going to examine why'. Wrongful conviction is intrinsically and inextricably linked to racism and thus poverty and white supremacy. It is no coincidence that many victims of wrongful conviction are POC and many of the practitioners and victims in the actual case are white. All in all, this provided some interesting insight, while not really useful for anyone with a criminology background it is more suited to someone with limited knowledge. However in saying that, it's a failure to properly examine race and its lenient stance on criminal justice practitioners responsible makes it read more like propaganda that is designed to draw attention to the issues in the system and how to fix them while minimising the responsibility of the corrupt and selfish practitioners who are responsible. Therefore, I don't think this is necessarily the best source of information for someone who isn't educated enough on the subject matter to see through some of the bullshit.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Connie

    “As I’ll explain, the psychological flaws behind wrongful convictions are a triple-whammy. They not only contribute to the wrongful convictions in the first instance, but they make us unable to see or comprehend the errors as they are happening. In other words, they blind us to their impact. Then the same psychological problems cause us to deny the mistakes after-the-fact when a wrongful conviction is claimed 20, 30, or even 40 years later. In other words, the psychological issues at work create “As I’ll explain, the psychological flaws behind wrongful convictions are a triple-whammy. They not only contribute to the wrongful convictions in the first instance, but they make us unable to see or comprehend the errors as they are happening. In other words, they blind us to their impact. Then the same psychological problems cause us to deny the mistakes after-the-fact when a wrongful conviction is claimed 20, 30, or even 40 years later. In other words, the psychological issues at work create the problem, blind us to the problem as it’s unfolding, and then insulate the problem from introspection and discovery after-the-fact. As a result, we as a society are in collective denial about our biases, misperceptions, and memory problems. Prosecutors, judges, police officers, jurors, witnesses, defense attorneys, media reporters – everyone - have brought into the myths of the system and confidently go about their business unaware of the thin ice they are walking on. Though new breakthroughs in science and psychology are quickly eroding the myth of the past, players in the system by and large ignore them, resist the 'new,' and confidently assert their opinions in ignorance of their flimsy foundations.” p. 7 “I now tell my students working in the [Ohio innocence Project] that while their instincts about whether a witness is lying or telling the truth should not be totally disregarded, their gut reactions should never be viewed as very important factors in the overall investigation. Judge on the hard evidence, I tell them, not on demeanor. But this is a hard lesson for the students to learn. Our societal belief in our lie-detection abilities is so ingrained that I still sometimes find students slacking on a case when they have not been moved by the demeanor of the inmate claiming innocence, or telling me that they are going to keep working hard on the case that appears dead in the water because they met the inmate and 'know' from his 'vibe' that he is innocent. I remind them that you can’t take your instincts to the bank. Humans are just not good lie detectors” p. 155

  6. 4 out of 5

    Tina

    I don't read a lot of nonfiction because I usually find it dry and boring; this book was anything but. It uses real cases to illustrate the problems with the US criminal justice system and the reasons why prosecutors and judges tend to fight tooth and nail against exonerating convicted people later found to be innocent -- even when the evidence of their innocence is clear and overwhelming. (Note: for the most part this is not malicious behavior; most of these prosecutors genuinely believe that t I don't read a lot of nonfiction because I usually find it dry and boring; this book was anything but. It uses real cases to illustrate the problems with the US criminal justice system and the reasons why prosecutors and judges tend to fight tooth and nail against exonerating convicted people later found to be innocent -- even when the evidence of their innocence is clear and overwhelming. (Note: for the most part this is not malicious behavior; most of these prosecutors genuinely believe that they convicted the right person.) Professor Godsey has a somewhat unique perspective, as a prosecutor turned innocence lawyer, and he looks back unflinchingly at his own behavior back in his days as a prosecutor, mentioning several examples where he himself fell victim to the very human flaws that can result in wrongful convictions. I think this book should be required reading for everyone in law enforcement, from police and prosecutors and judges to defense attorneys. Only when people recognize the common psychological factors behind wrongful convictions can they work to prevent them. Because as long as the people with all the power persist in convicting the innocent, who among us is safe?

  7. 4 out of 5

    Sishi

    It is a good book with a lot of interesting cases and fun quotations. The connection of theories and personal experience makes it easy to read. A beginner in the field of wrongful conviction and criminal justice would find it educational. After taking the course of wrongful convition and reading cases and textbooks, I found nothing unfamiliar in this book. PS with regard to DNA evidence, the author says it might be problematic just as other forensic evidence, but a lot of exonerations are based It is a good book with a lot of interesting cases and fun quotations. The connection of theories and personal experience makes it easy to read. A beginner in the field of wrongful conviction and criminal justice would find it educational. After taking the course of wrongful convition and reading cases and textbooks, I found nothing unfamiliar in this book. PS with regard to DNA evidence, the author says it might be problematic just as other forensic evidence, but a lot of exonerations are based on DNA evidence. Indeed we have presumption of innocence and scholars in this field do not care about wrongful exonerations. However I do think it is worth remembering that if DNA evidence is problematic in proving guilty, it might also be problematic in throwing out guilty verdict / proving innocent.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Miss Murder

    This book is a must read. Being a criminal justice student, I am very intrigued by the topic of wrongful convictions and all the encompasses it. I originally picked this up as part of a research project, and I am so glad I did. Mark Godsey sheds light on this topic in a very different way, discussing things like cognitive dissonance and blind memory and how it relates to wrongful convictions. While most books discuss jury selection or ineffective legal representation, Godsey analyzes human error This book is a must read. Being a criminal justice student, I am very intrigued by the topic of wrongful convictions and all the encompasses it. I originally picked this up as part of a research project, and I am so glad I did. Mark Godsey sheds light on this topic in a very different way, discussing things like cognitive dissonance and blind memory and how it relates to wrongful convictions. While most books discuss jury selection or ineffective legal representation, Godsey analyzes human error and fallibility, which is truly the heart of it all. Not only does he discuss this effectively with research, but he does so with his own personal experience as a former prosecutor turned wrongful conviction lawyer. "Blind Injustice" is a thorough account of the politics and psychology behind wrongful convictions from Godsey's own eyes. This should be on any crime buffs' reading list.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Robert Airhart II

    Improving criminal justice system A detailed review of factors leading to wrongful convictions and meaningful prescriptions (all of them already proven fair and effective) for improving the system. One of the most telling analogies in this book is the process and procedures used after aviation crashes to determine the causes of a crash and eliminate these causes in the future. The author questions why there is not a similar system in place committed to understanding and eliminating the human erro Improving criminal justice system A detailed review of factors leading to wrongful convictions and meaningful prescriptions (all of them already proven fair and effective) for improving the system. One of the most telling analogies in this book is the process and procedures used after aviation crashes to determine the causes of a crash and eliminate these causes in the future. The author questions why there is not a similar system in place committed to understanding and eliminating the human errors in the justice system leading to wrongful convictions. This book should be read by everyone working in criminal justice. It should be read by every prospective juror to help them understand the weight of the responsibilities they will take on.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Lisa Lawhorn

    This book is a great introduction to the problem of wrongful convictions. Mark does a great job of educating the reader while using interesting examples to explain how the psychological biases, junk science and political ambition impacts the civil rights of innocent people. The psychology is fascinating and the issues abound in many aspects of our legal system. I pray that more people read this book and watch movies like "Brian Banks" and "When They See Us" to understand the injustice that is ha This book is a great introduction to the problem of wrongful convictions. Mark does a great job of educating the reader while using interesting examples to explain how the psychological biases, junk science and political ambition impacts the civil rights of innocent people. The psychology is fascinating and the issues abound in many aspects of our legal system. I pray that more people read this book and watch movies like "Brian Banks" and "When They See Us" to understand the injustice that is happening and the changes needed.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Kayla Lehn

    I do have the background for a default interest in this, but I think this book is for everyone and anyone. Godsey’s ability to write for experts and the layperson alike is astounding and commendable. If you read this and then listen to a true crime podcast, watch an episode of dateline, or hear Nancy Grace’s voice, you’ll notice at least one (if not five) of the phenomena from this read. A favorite of 2019 for sure.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Bill Anderson

    Time for Justice As someone who previously worked in the criminal justice system, I can attest to what the author says. It is a culture that has existed for ages and changes very slowly. Prosecutors take pride in their conviction record. Public defenders have case loads so large, they don't have time, or resources, for investigation. Mistakes are made, and innocent people are convicted. Yes, most are guilty, and they learn how to work the system. Time for Justice As someone who previously worked in the criminal justice system, I can attest to what the author says. It is a culture that has existed for ages and changes very slowly. Prosecutors take pride in their conviction record. Public defenders have case loads so large, they don't have time, or resources, for investigation. Mistakes are made, and innocent people are convicted. Yes, most are guilty, and they learn how to work the system.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Adrienna

    The author covered unjust and wrongful convictions, and these people served pretty long sentences to find out they were innocent. Ohio Project, and this attorney, has helped use DNA and show that there could be false lie detector testing, witnesses pick outs, and even photo drawings can put the wrong person in jail. It took quite some time to read and due to other reads, I browsed through some of the last chapters. I really enjoyed the blind tunnel vision chapter.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Kat Rogers

    Very good book, incredibly in depth. It gets to the heart of the problem of the fight for innocent people wrongfully convicted. Reading it made me see the issue in a light I never would have otherwise. I would have liked some conversation, even a peripheral glance, at the way racism intersects with wrongful convictions.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Michael Connolly

    Eve-opening Book on Law Enforcement Never tell the cops anything without a lawyer present! This advice comes from law enforcement itself. Law enforcement individuals may discard your testimony if it does not fit their preconceptions. The book goes into great depth regarding cognitive errors of the police, district attorney's, and judges. Eve-opening Book on Law Enforcement Never tell the cops anything without a lawyer present! This advice comes from law enforcement itself. Law enforcement individuals may discard your testimony if it does not fit their preconceptions. The book goes into great depth regarding cognitive errors of the police, district attorney's, and judges.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Rob Lewis

    Well-written, easy to read and terrifying analysis of the criminal justice system. Ruined cop shows for me but gives a good overview of how misattribution, tunnel vision and confirmation bias work in the minds a witnesses and investigators with or without administrative evil and noble cause corruption.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Fianna Whitman

    Interesting and enlightening but so repetitive, the book should have been a third of the length. I also listened to this as an audiobook and the narrator was annoying. He read it like he was a 12 year old kid talking to his best friend. That, however, had nothing to do with the 3 star rating.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Nancy

    You think you can spot a liar or that your memory of an event is infallible? Think again! After reading this book I understand how horribly wrong justice can go at times and how unreliable witnesses are and the psychology behind why these mistakes happen.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Harris

    A very interesting read. I liked how the author kept the stories about his clients short and limited to the essential facts. My favorite parts of the book were the studies used to illustrate why certain members of the criminal justice process exhibit biases, preconceived notions, beliefs, etc.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Vicki Frost

    Really loved this book because I learned so much about how memory can be manipulated and how our justice system is stacked against anyone who may be suspected of a crime. So grateful for the Innocence Projects and others who are trying to fix what is wrong. Great read.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Patti Mercurio

    Very interesting book on justice system and opportunities for improving the system

  22. 4 out of 5

    Bec

    This book is terrifying. Read it & weep for the state of America's justice system. This book is terrifying. Read it & weep for the state of America's justice system.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Katie Harris

    A fascinating and truly important read. Everyone involved in the legal system or who has an interest in achieving justice should read it.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Jason Pickell

    Basic but enjoyable look into the injustices of the criminal justice system

  25. 4 out of 5

    Stephanie Cunningham

    Wow

  26. 5 out of 5

    Steve TS

    The subtitle says it all!

  27. 5 out of 5

    Stephen

    This disconcerting dive into our criminal justice system should be required reading for all.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Paula Yerke

    An excellent review of how very difficult it is to find justice. People are flawed, the system is flawed, forensics is flawed. Frightening!

  29. 5 out of 5

    Margaret

  30. 5 out of 5

    Corey

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