1st Edition

False Justice
Eight Myths that Convict the Innocent, Revised Edition

ISBN 9781138783003
Published July 17, 2014 by Routledge
320 Pages

USD $46.95

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Book Description

Compelling and engagingly written, this book by former Attorney General of Ohio Jim Petro and his wife, writer Nancy Petro, takes the reader inside actual cases, summarizes extensive research on the causes and consequences of wrongful conviction, and exposes eight common myths that inspire false confidence in the justice system and undermine reform. Now published in paperback with an extensive list of web links to wrongful conviction sources internationally, False Justice is ideal for use in a wide array of criminal justice and criminology courses. 

Myth 1: Everyone in prison claims innocence.

Myth 2: Our system almost never convicts an innocent person.

Myth 3: Only the guilty confess.

Myth 4: Wrongful conviction is the result of innocent human error.

Myth 5: An eyewitness is the best testimony.

Myth 6: Conviction errors get corrected on appeal.

Myth 7: It dishonors the victim to question a conviction.

Myth 8: If the justice system has problems, the pros will fix them.

Table of Contents

1. The Devil Cheats Justice 2. A Haunting Doubt 3. Relentless Pursuit 4. Political Genes 5. Advocating for a Victim 6. Rising to Opportunity 7. The Calling Card 8. Proving Innocence 9. Life After Exoneration 10. Proving Guilty 11. How Many? 12. A Compelling Witness 13. Flaws and Faulty Forensics 14. Closing Arguments 15. Surviving Injustice 16. Truth and Redemption 17. Dissecting Error

18. Prison and Executions 19. Capital Punishment Disclosures 20. Classic Misconceptions 21. Lies and Other Disgraces 22. Expert Mumbo Jumbo 23. When the Good Guys Aren’t 24. Why We Can’t Believe Our Eyes 25. Observations on Eyewitnesses

26. When the DNA is Gone 27. Advocacy After Politics 28. Discerning Guilt and Innocence 29. Seeking Assurance 30. Arguing from the Other Side 31. A Higher Authority 32. Waiting Eighteen Years for Fifteen Minutes 33. Tough Decisions 34. A Partial Victory 35. Brady’s Catch-22 36. Pesky Issues 37. Addressing Unacceptable Error 38. A Defining Moment for DNA 39. The Supreme Court’s Divided Opinion

PART IV: DISPELLING EIGHT MYTHS 40. Myth No. 1 41. Myth No. 2 42. Myth No. 3 43. Myth No. 4 44. Myth No. 5 45. Myth No. 6 46. Myth No. 7 47. Myth No. 8

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Jim Petro is a former elected Attorney General of Ohio. Committed to a strong law-and-order platform, he launched a breakthrough effort that added 210,000 criminal DNA profiles to the CODIS database, solving countless cold cases but also revealing wrongful convictions. He retired from public service in 2013 as Chancellor of Ohio’s public colleges and universities to focus on criminal justice reform and advocacy.

Nancy Petro pursued a career in marketing, publishing, and business management before focusing in 2008 on writing and advocating for criminal justice reform.


"Undergraduate criminology students often believe that the criminal justice system is infallible, but False Justice very compellingly reveals that much of what they believe are myths. Former Attorney General of Ohio Jim Petro delivers a very powerful message: he has seen the inner working of the criminal justice system and as a result is an outspoken advocate for criminal justice reform. This book is highly accessible, immensely engaging, and has motivated many of my students —  as future criminal justice practitioners —  to think critically about justice in the U.S. I highly recommend this book for anyone teaching a course on wrongful convictions and for anyone who thinks the criminal justice system can do no wrong."

  • Lyndsay Boggess, Criminology, University of South Florida

"False Justice is one of the most important — and influential — books on the subject of wrongful convictions. It contains unique insights and perspectives, because it was written by the former top prosecutor for the State of Ohio, who came to realize that the system makes mistakes far more often than most believe. False Justice is ideal for classroom use because it is not only accessible and enjoyable, but it covers all major topics to be related to the subject, from false confessions to police tunnel vision to problems with eyewitness identification. A must-read for any person or student interested in the eye-opening truth of criminal justice."

  • Mark Godsey, University of Cincinnati College of Law, and Director, Rosenthal Institute for Justice/Ohio Innocence Project

"Most of us are potential jurors; we are all potential suspects. As such, it is imperative that we each become informed as to how wrongful convictions can be prevented. A comprehensive overview that is both well researched and accessible, False Justice is perfect for students interested in criminal justice, legal studies, and social justice. In fact, I strongly recommend it for anyone wishing for a more just legal system!"

  • Melissa Sheridan Embser-Herbert, Sociology, Hamline University

"This book is an excellent text that deals with the errors and mistakes of the criminal justice system. I plan to require it for my undergraduate Contemporary Issues in Criminology class."

  • Steven A. Egger, Criminology, University of Houston – Clear Lake

"When a prosecutor sends innocent men and women to prison, the usual response sounds something like ‘We felt certain we convicted the perpetrator, and even in the face of new evidence demonstrating innocence we still feel good about our case.’ Jim Petro, who served as Ohio attorney general, realized wrongful convictions occur way too often and that they involve common denominators. He and his wife Nancy Petro speak up, with authority, for those who care about justice. And they do so in a way that will bring enlightenment to both students and law enforcement professionals."

  • Steve Weinberg, professor emeritus, University of Missouri Journalism School, and author of eight non-fiction books

"Jim and Nancy Petro have written a compelling memoir and an amply supported guide to the tragic vagaries of the criminal justice system, using the stories of the wrongly convicted to identify the root causes of injustice and how we as citizens can cure these ills. Students will find this primer a real page-turner — an accessible how-to for pursuing justice."

  • Margarey Koosed, University of Akron School of Law