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.
"A breathless page-turner, especially for true crime readers, drawing together Godsey and his indefatigable staff as they relentlessly power through volumes and volumes of evidence in pursuit of the truth.”—Salon
"Provides great insight into how wrongful convictions happen in a system designed to avoid them."—New York Journal of Books
"Blind Injustice is worth the read. Give a copy to your favorite prosecutor. And maybe to your neighbor."—GAMSO - for the Defense
"The best book I’ve read on the criminal justice system since Michelle Alexander’s The New Jim Crow. . . . This is the rare book that looks at criminal justice from the perspective of culture. And Godsey has the chops to tell it."—Daily Kos
"[Mark Godsey's] book is about how his career change also changed his outlook, by showing up 'problems in the system that I, as a prosecutor, should have seen, but about which I had simply been in denial'. . . . Mr Godsey’s work is memorable because he is able to show precisely how these flaws work in action."
"The arguments put forth by Godsey are as convincing as they are eye-opening. . . . The insight is deceptively simple, but compelling: Human beings are possessed of psychic weaknesses that all but guarantee the imprisonment of innocent men and women. With this knowledge in hand, what will we do to address the problem?"—New York Journal of Books
“The book, which is in part a confessional, looks at how innocent people can become the victims of faulty eyewitness testimony, bad forensics, and a variety of blinding cognitive biases on the part of law-enforcement personnel, prosecutors, and judges, and why the system so tenaciously defends the status quo, even when it’s guilty of railroading innocent citizens. With so much attention rightly focused on racial injustice in recent years, Godsey’s book offers another important piece of the puzzle.”—The Nation
“Passionate and readable, this book provides meaningful support for the Innocence movement and startling insights into the justice system while admitting the reality of systemic racism but omitting its direct discussion.”—Library Journal
“Mark Godsey, a former federal prosecutor who now heads the Ohio Innocence Project, examines the causes of wrongful convictions, from faulty eyewitness identifications to investigator tunnel vision, while drawing on a depressingly vast array of shocking examples. He graciously allows that the police, prosecutors, and judges whose ‘unreasonable and intellectually dishonest positions’ have led to unjust convictions and avoidable suffering acted not out of malice but out of the abundant capacity for human error.” - OUR FAVORITE BOOKS OF 2017—The Progressive
"An excellent resource for psychology and law courses. . . . Highly recommended"—CHOICE
“The high-stakes work [of exoneration] is costly, time-consuming, and frustrating, and it requires tenacity and compassion to persevere. Mark Godsey has what it takes.”—Time
“A master storyteller, Mark Godsey’s rare triple-perspective of prosecutor, innocence champion, and law professor creates a unique and beautiful voice that not only contributes significantly to the innocence movement but makes the book gripping and hard to put down. A must-read for anyone who cares about justice.”—Richard A. Leo, Hamill Family Professor of Law and Psychology at the University of San Francisco and author of Police Interrogation and American Justice
“Mark Godsey’s journey from prosecuting in the storied U.S Attorney’s office in the Southern District of New York to 'innocence lawyer' in his hometown of Cincinnati has yielded an important, candid, and scholarly meditation on the ‘cognitive’ traps that lead to wrongful convictions. This should be mandatory reading for all young federal and state prosecutors, not to mention judges and defense counsel.” —Barry Scheck, Professor of Law at Cardozo School of Law and cofounder of the Innocence Project
“This careful exploration of the psychology of criminal investigations, written in an accessible and conversational tone, exposes how even the best-intentioned officers can get evidence wrong and how we can restore truth to the criminal justice system.”—Brandon Garrett, Professor of Law at the University of Virginia School of Law and author of Convicting the Innocent: Where Criminal Prosecutions Go Wrong