Wrongful Conviction: International Perspectives on Miscarriages of Justice

By C. Ronald Huff; Martin Killias | Go to book overview

1
INTRODUCTION

C. RONALD HUFF AND MARTIN KILLIAS

The subject of wrongful conviction attracted some attention in the United States beginning in the 1930s, but most of the earlier literature focused primarily on discussions of individual cases (see, for example, Borchard, 1932; Gardner, 1952; Frank and Frank, 1957; Ehrmann, 1962; Radin, 1964). Some literature has dealt extensively with the most high-visibility cases, such as the Dreyfus affair in the nineteenth century (Chapman, 1955; Tuchman, 1962; Bredin, 1986); the infamous case of the “Scottsboro boys” in the 1920s (Carter, 1969); the Lindbergh baby kidnapping and murder in the 1930s (Kennedy, 1985); and more recent cases such as that of Randall Dale Adams, whose wrongful conviction, imprisonment, and near execution in Texas led to both his own book (Adams, 1991) and Errol Morris's prize-winning documentary, The Thin Blue Line (1988). Some cases have captured the attention of the general public, including some of those already mentioned as well as the Sam Sheppard case, which led to a long-running television series and a very successful movie by the same name (The Fugitive); the “Birmingham Six” case, which inspired extensive analyses and the film In the Name of the Father; the controversy surrounding John Demjanjuk, accused of being the notorious “Ivan the Terrible,” a Nazi death camp guard who helped in the mass murder of Jews; and the wrongful conviction of Michael and Lindy Chamberlain for the death of their daughter in Australia, which attracted international attention and inspired the movie A Cry in the Dark.

Both scholarly attention and public attention to this issue have been greatly accelerated by the exonerations of hundreds of wrongfully convicted

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