Blind Injustice: A Former Prosecutor Exposes the Psychology and Politics of Wrongful Convictions (Paperback)
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.
About the Author
Mark Godsey is Professor of Law at the University of Cincinnati. He was an award-winning federal prosecutor in New York City before becoming a leading attorney and activist for the wrongfully convicted. Godsey is the co-founder of the Ohio Innocence Project, which has freed from prison 28 innocent people who collectively served more than 525 years for crimes they did not commit. Godsey frequently appears on national television and in national print media, including People, Newsweek, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, CNN, Dateline NBC, and Forensic Files, among others. In 2017, his career was profiled in Time.
"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
“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
"[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 Economist
"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.”
“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
“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
"Blind Injustice is worth the read. Give a copy to your favorite prosecutor. And maybe to your neighbor."
— GAMSO - for the Defense
"An excellent resource for psychology and law courses. . . . Highly recommended"
"Blind Injustice, instructive and passionate, is an excellent introduction to major wrongful conviction themes. It is an accessible book for laypersons and criminologists who are new to the subject. It would make a lively text in a wrongful conviction course. One wishes that it would be read by prosecutors across America. If they did, perhaps like the author, they would say, as the hymn Amazing Grace has it— 'was blind but now I see.' . . . An attention-grabbing book that powerfully instructs."
— Social Science Research Network
"Godsey’s book is splendid. Everyone who cares the least bit about justice must read it. Parts will make you shake your head in amazement, parts will give you a sense of elation, and parts will make you cry. . . . There have been, over the past dozen or so years, several excellent books examining the failings of the American criminal justice system. A skeptic might wonder what there is new to say about the problems that infect the system. But that skepticism melts almost instantly when one opens Godsey’s book. Mark Godsey brings a unique perspective to bear on the problem of convicting the innocent."
— Ohio State Journal of Criminal Law
“If, like me, you enjoyed the Netflix ‘docudrama’ Making A Murderer, you will be right at home with this excellent exposé of certain problematic features of the American criminal justice system. Former prosecutor, now professor, Mark Godsey takes his readers through a multitude of cases in which he acted as legal counsel, and where wrongful convictions emerged at the end of the day. The fact that this leading light in the Ohio Innocence Project was on the ‘other side’ of the justice ‘coin’ for many years, employing the same tactics that are likely to give rise to mistakes, gives his writing the credibility that other ‘justice system in crisis’ or ‘criminal injustice system’ books simply do not have.”
— Criminal Law and Criminal Justice Books
"Mark Godsey offers a fresh viewpoint"
— National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers
"An easy and interesting read. . . . It is Godsey’s experience as a former prosecutor that gives this book its power. His story of transformation is one that every lawyer could learn from. I will certainly be buying copies for my students who begin their careers in prosecution."
— National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers