The Cadaver King and the Country Dentist

The Cadaver King and the Country Dentist

A True Story of Injustice in the American South

A shocking and deeply reported account of the persistent plague of institutional racism and junk forensic science in our criminal justice system and its devastating effect on innocent lives

After two three-year-old girls were raped and murdered in rural Mississippi, law enforcement pursued and convicted two innocent men: Kennedy Brewer and Levon Brooks. Together they spent a combined thirty years in prison before finally being exonerated in 2008. Meanwhile, the real killer remained free.

The Cadaver King and the Country Dentist recounts the story of how the criminal justice system allowed this to happen, and of how two men, Dr. Steven Hayne and Dr. Michael West, built successful careers on the back of that structure. For nearly two decades Hayne, a medical examiner, performed the vast majority of Mississippi’s autopsies, while his friend Dr. West, a local dentist, pitched himself as a forensic jack-of-all-trades. Together they became the go-to experts for prosecutors and helped put countless Mississippians in prison. But then some of those convictions began to fall apart.

Here, Radley Balko and Tucker Carrington tell the haunting story of how the courts and Mississippi’s death investigation system-a relic of the Jim Crow era-failed to deliver justice for its citizens. The authors argue that bad forensics, structural racism, and institutional failures are at fault, and raise sobering questions about our ability and willingness to address them.

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Genre: Nonfiction / History / United States / State & Local / South (al, Ar, Fl, Ga, Ky, La, Ms, Nc, Sc, Tn, Va, Wv)

On Sale: February 27th 2018

Price: $16.99

Page Count: 416

ISBN-13: 9781610396929

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Praise

"Of all the tragedy documented in this book, surely the most pernicious is the unacknowledged progression of discriminatory policies in the American criminal justice system. The black men at the story's center were not snatched out of a Mississippi jail and lynched. They were falsely imprisoned. They were haunted by state efforts to execute them for three decades. This is a powerful and instructive story, masterfully told by Balko and Carrington."—Ibram X. Kendi, National Book Award-winning author of Stamped from the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America
"The Cadaver King and the Country Dentist paints a devastating picture of Mississippi's ongoing systemic abuse of junk evidence by medical examiners and highlights the myriad ways the current legal and political systems reward certain and speedy convictions. This carefully constructed and highly-readable account also reveals the ways in which catastrophic and almost comic expert errors can lead to hasty conclusions, ruined lives, and may take years to correct, if they are corrected at all."—Dahlia Lithwick, Senior Editor, Slate
"If, like most Americans, you think that our legal system protects innocent people from being falsely convicted, be prepared to have your faith shattered. In horrifying detail, Radley Balko and Tucker Carrington show how structural racism, junk science, overzealous prosecutors, compliant judges, and a bloodthirsty press conspired to wreck lives and convict the innocent. Grounded in Mississippi courtrooms, but with national implications, this book will leave you outraged and hungry for change."—James Forman, Jr., Professor, Yale Law School and author of Locking Up Our Own: Crime and Punishment in Black America
"A horrifying exposé of how a few individuals can infect an entire state's criminal justice system."—Kirkus Reviews, *Starred Review*
"A clear and shocking portrait of the structural failings of the U.S. criminal justice system... This eminently readable book builds a hard-to-ignore case for comprehensive criminal justice reform."—Publishers Weekly, *Starred Review*
"Through the intensive scrutiny of how the men were speedily tried, convicted, and then released after years in prison, the authors uncover an unholy alliance of racist cops and prosecutors with questionable death investigations and misapplied forensics. This work should spark both admiration and outrage-and, one hopes, reform."—Booklist