Shortlisted for the 2013 Orwell Prize, and the 2013 CWA Non-Fiction Dagger.
In 1986, Kris Maharaj, a British businessman living in Miami, was arrested for the brutal murder of two ex-business associates. His lawyer did not present a strong alibi; Kris was found guilty and sentenced to death in the electric chair.
It wasn't until a young lawyer working for nothing, Clive Stafford Smith, took on his case that strong evidence began to emerge that the state of Florida had got the wrong man on Death Row. So far, so good - except that, as Stafford Smith argues here so compellingly, the American justice system is actually designed to ignore innocence. Twenty-six years later, Maharaj is still in jail.
Step by step, Stafford Smith untangles the Maharaj case and the system that makes disasters like this inevitable. His conclusions will act as a wake-up call for those who condone legislation which threatens basic human rights and, at the same time, the personal story he tells demonstrates that determination can challenge the institutions that surreptitiously threaten our freedom.
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His book demonstrates with painful clarity not only how badly the US judicial process can go wrong, but how hard it is for the courts to acknowledge a mistake… Stafford Smith’s investigation unfolds with all the twists and turns of a Hollywood whodunit - Sunday Times
If you believe in the death penalty, read this book. It will change your mind and change your life. A book that zaps through you at 2,000 volts – just like the current used to execute a man in the electric chair - Susan Hill
This remarkable book… is an empirical study and exposition of that inimitably American blend of apathy and cruelty, of efficiency on one hand, ineptitude on the other. It is not only about institutional America, but – since Stafford Smith is a Brit – about our own special relationship with America, and the things we choose not to see or confront - Observer
A terrific read. Stranger than any fiction and much more exciting than Miami Vice - Geoffrey Robertson Q.C.
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About the Author
Clive Stafford Smith is a lawyer specialising in defending those accused of the most serious crimes, and is founder and Director of UK legal charity Reprieve. Based in the US for twenty-six years, he now works from the UK where he continues to defend prisoners on Death Row, and challenges the continued incarceration of those held in secret prisons around the world. He has secured the release of 65 prisoners from Guantánamo Bay and still acts for fifteen more. His book Bad Men (shortlisted for the 2008 Orwell Prize) described this campaign. Alongside many other awards, in 2000 he received an OBE for 'humanitarian services'.