Blind Injustice

Mark Godsey is a former prosecutor and now is part of the Ohio Innocence Project. After jumping ship, so to speak, Godsey got a look at what exactly goes into a wrongful conviction and why they’re so hard to overturn.

I’ve already said that being falsely accused of a crime is something I’m pretty viscerally afraid of. I used to think that wrongful convictions were something that almost never happened, and that fear was completely irrational. But the real world continues to remind me that it kind of sucks and there’s a lot that we need to do to make it better. And that’s the tone that Godsey takes in his book.

Now, this is a book published through the University of California Press. It does read like a textbook and Godsey is a lawyer first and author second. That being said, it is a little dry in its language. I can see someone having trouble getting through this short book. It’s almost deceptively short. It’s about 200 pages, but it does take a good amount of mental energy to get through. Also, Godsey does repeat himself sometimes, especially when talking about a certain case of his that he uses an example at multiple points. On the other hand, I am not a lawyer, so maybe my layperson’s opinion doesn’t do the book justice. I would be interested to see what a lawyer or law student thinks of Blind Injustice. 

Despite the dry style and repetition, I thought that Blind Injustice is a fascinating and eye-opening read. Godsey discusses the mistakes that prosecutors make; ones that he himself made in the past. He discusses the tunnel vision and confirmation bias that leads to the relentless pursuit of the prime suspect. He describes the cognitive dissonance that comes with having to realize that your mistake put an innocent person in prison, possibly on death row.

Godsey’s thoughtful account doesn’t sidestep his own contribution to the problem. Perhaps writing this book is part of his effort to fix it. He wasn’t even aware of the problem until he was assigned to work for the Kentucky Innocence Project. He emphasizes that the people that contribute to the problem are not necessarily bad people. They’re often good people that think that they are doing good work. They’re caught in a broken bureaucratic system that makes it easy for the mistakes of well-meaning people to be nearly set in stone.

Still, Godsey emphasizes that Blind Injustice is not a “doomsday book”. It’s clear that he doesn’t think the criminal justice is beyond repair. Godsey seems to believe that change is possible. I think that Blind Injustice is a book that needs to be read. For people that don’t know about how broken the criminal justice system is, it’s an eye-opening experience.

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