Genre: Nonfiction, True Crime, US Legal System
My Mother raised me to love Perry Mason. I recall watching old reruns in black and white in the afternoons after school, and occasionally on those sick days home from school. As I grew, my indoctrination into the fairness and equity of the US justice system continued as I watched the varieties of Law and Order, CSI, The Closer, etc. In these television shows, the guilty are usually caught, justice is served, and the viewers faith in the infallibility of the US legal system is reaffirmed all in the space of an episode spanning less than an hour. In all of these shows, the police and prosecutors of the state are only concerned with true justice being served. This pursuit of justice on the part of these characters often leads to what I will term as the "deathbed rescue," in which an innocent person is saved from execution on death row by mere minutes after the tireless investigator questions an incorrect assumption made years earlier and begs the attorney generals office to intervene with the governor. This is of course great television, and like many viewers, I always assumed that things like this must routinely happen in real life.
Serial and Undisclosed changed everything. Those podcasts, especially Undisclosed, ripped the veil from my eyes and put the truth of the US justice system on display. As the inconsistencies in the case continued to mount I was horrified to realize how naive I had been. For the first time, I began to fear that if I am ever accused of a crime I can't trust innocence to protect me. I also learned that the wheels of justice do not turn swiftly. I was shocked to find that it can take months and years for any developments to move through the courts.
This is an important book. Rabia Chaudry, Adnan's most steadfast defender, and an amazing woman that has become a hero of mine tells the story behind the scenes. I don't think it can replace listening to the podcasts, and I encourage everyone to give them a try, but it is still worth reading as it provides a perspective on just what a long shot it was that Adnan could find any sort of justice without the interest and involvement of the media and the public outcry which followed.
In the end, my heart remains broken for the family of Hae Min Lee. I wonder if they will ever be able to receive justice for what happened to her after what those in charge of the investigation have done.