Audiobook Review: Brooklyn North by Peter McDonnell and Josh Sanburn
Brooklyn North is a fascinating, tragic and ultimately hopeful examination of wrongful convictions. It highlights the common inefficiency and bias of the justice system, in particular against Black men. We follow a number of cases connected to a well known former homicide detective, and see again and again, how corners were cut, how facts were distorted, misconstrued, omitted or made up entirely, how witnesses were coerced, and how this impacted the life of innocent men and their families who continued to fight for them. I do not get teary eyed easily when reading/listening to a book, but I did with this one, because it was such a real, human story that could not help but move you. It also details how release with parole is not enough. Without exoneration these men could not find good work, join the army, vote, and had to live not only with the fact that they unjustifiably lost years of their lives, but also had to carry the stigma of being branded a criminal and a threat to society. Of course there are many real criminals in prisons, but the fact that stories like these exist made me think about how many are innocent and also, how many were too severely sentenced due to sloppiness and corruption. Apparently, about 20,000 inmates are wrongfully imprisoned in the US. It's a sad tale that seems to be far too common. Brooklyn North sheds light on stories that deserve to be told and thus emphasizes that a significant reform to policing and the justice system as we know it, and a sincere examination of racial injustices and biases must continue to be a priority.