The most recommended books about miscarriages of justice

Who picked these books? Meet our 20 experts.

20 authors created a book list connected to miscarriages of justices, and here are their favorite miscarriages of justice books.
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What type of miscarriages of justice book?


Book cover of The Innocent Man: Murder and Injustice in a Small Town

Greg Marquis Author Of Truth & Honour: The Oland Family Murder Case That Shocked Canada

From my list on the history of murder.

Why am I passionate about this?

As an academic, I have been researching Canadian police and criminal justice history since the 1980s and I teach courses on the history of policing, crime, drugs and homicide, and capital punishment. In 2014 I began to cover a high-profile murder trial in my region of Canada and ended up writing a best-selling book on the case. The Oland case reinforced my interest in true crime, both as a research topic and a cultural phenomenon. True crime, whether set in the distant past or contemporary times, offers writers and readers alike fascinating forays into specific societies and communities as well as human nature.

Greg's book list on the history of murder

Greg Marquis Why did Greg love this book?

We all know that Grisham writes best-selling fiction that has been turned into several Hollywood blockbusters. But the most frightening book by this former small-town defence lawyer is his only work of non-fiction, an account of the wrongful conviction of Ronald Keith Williamson of the 1982 sex murder of Debra Sue Carter. Williamson, who was low-hanging fruit for police and prosecutors in Ada, Oklahoma, languished in prison for 11 years before being exonerated by DNA evidence. This book should be mandatory reading for police, prosecutors, and judges and is a useful reminder that public opinion and justice are often mutually exclusive.

By John Grisham,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Innocent Man as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?


A gripping true-crime story of a shocking miscarriage of justice, from international bestselling thriller author John Grisham.

In the baseball draft of 1971, Ron Williamson was the first player chosen from Oklahoma. Signing with Oakland, he said goodbye to his small home town and left for California to pursue his dreams of glory.

Six years later he was back, his dreams broken by a bad arm and bad habits - drinking, drugs and women. He began to show signs of mental illness. Unable to keep a job, he moved in with his mother and…

Book cover of A Knock at Midnight: A Story of Hope, Justice, and Freedom

Melinda Lewis Author Of Social Policy for Effective Practice: A Strengths Approach

From my list on igniting students’ passions about policy change.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a policy advocate, grassroots activist, university professor, and author committed to social change—at scale—to advance social work values of racial, economic, environmental, and social justice. Recognizing that most social workers are drawn to our profession because they want to make a difference in the lives of their clients, one by one, I invest my energies and skills to making policy study and practice accessible, relevant, and urgent. My students quickly get used to noting the book recommendations I sprinkle throughout class discussions and in assignment feedback, because when you see the world through a social policy frame, everything has a policy implication! 

Melinda's book list on igniting students’ passions about policy change

Melinda Lewis Why did Melinda love this book?

Social work students are people people, so even with the interactive cases and vignettes that connect policy knowledge to practice, it can be difficult for students planning for a career in interpersonal therapy or crisis intervention to connect emotionally to complex policy topics like Social Security reform, net-zero carbon emissions, or criminal justice reform.

Barnett’s non-fiction title on the latter topic is page-turning and infused with heart. It also relates her activism and community organizing, in service of advancing justice in policing and corrections.

This part of her story helps students see how they, too, can take actions—even as an individual—that bear witness to our values and advance toward a vision of social change.

By Brittany K. Barnett,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked A Knock at Midnight as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

LOS ANGELES TIMES BOOK PRIZE FINALIST • NAACP IMAGE AWARD NOMINEE • A “powerful and devastating” (The Washington Post) call to free those buried alive by America’s legal system, and an inspiring true story about unwavering belief in humanity—from a gifted young lawyer and important new voice in the movement to transform the system.

“An essential book for our time . . . Brittany K. Barnett is a star.”—Van Jones, CEO of REFORM Alliance, CNN Host, and New York Times bestselling author 

Brittany K. Barnett was only a law student when she came across the case that would change her…

Book cover of Monument Road

Charles Salzberg Author Of Second Story Man

From my list on memorable, morally complicated characters.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a former magazine journalist and nonfiction book writer who now only writes crime novels. I try to write about a world that exists in varying degrees and shades of black and white. The characters in my books are flawed, sometimes deeply, trying their best to navigate a complex world while grappling with their own psychological and emotional scars. As a result, they often make decisions that wind up not being in their (or anyone else’s) best interest. In trying to breathe life into these characters, I get to know them better than I know myself, and it’s this I think allows me to admire the five books I’ve chosen.

Charles' book list on memorable, morally complicated characters

Charles Salzberg Why did Charles love this book?

This is the first in the Franky Dast series and it was nominated for a Shamus Award. Dast was convicted and sentenced to Death Row when he was 18, for the rape and murder of two adolescent boys. Eight years later, the verdict is overturned, in part as a result of the relationship Dast has established with the Justice Now Initiative, an organization specializing in cases of wrongful imprisonment. On his release, Dast joins the group and becomes involved in a case that hits close to home: the cop who arrested and coerced a confession from him is accused of shooting the son of a prominent judge. In Dast, Wiley has created the kind of complex character I’m drawn to, both as a writer and a reader. Wiley’s ability to dive deep into the psyche of complicated characters is something I’m always striving for.

By Michael Wiley,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Monument Road as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Introducing former death-row inmate turned private investigator Franky Dast in the first of an intriguing new crime noir series. Having spent eight years on death row for a crime he didn't commit, Franky Dast now works as an investigator for the Justice Now Initiative, seeking to help others in the same situation. But when he learns that Bill Higby, the detective whose testimony helped convict him, is facing his own murder charge, Franky is torn. Should he help the man he hates more than any other, the man who remains convinced of Franky's guilt to this day? As Franky delves…

Book cover of Solitary

Abigail Leslie Andrews Author Of Banished Men: How Migrants Endure the Violence of Deportation

From my list on the criminalization of immigrant men.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a scholar of gender and state violence, and I live and work at the US-Mexico border. For the past several years, I’ve worked collaboratively with large teams of Latinx-identified students to study the impacts of US immigration policies on migrants from Mexico and Central America. We realized that even though about half of immigrants are women, around 95% of deportees are men. So, we started to think about how US policies criminalize immigrant men. I became especially interested in how immigration enforcement (at the border and beyond) intersects with mass incarceration. In the list, I pick up books that trace the multinational reach of the carceral apparatus that comes to treat migrants as criminals.

Abigail's book list on the criminalization of immigrant men

Abigail Leslie Andrews Why did Abigail love this book?

This is Albert Woodfox’s shocking and amazing life history of spending most of his life in Angola, the most brutal prison in Louisiana.

It’s an exposé of prison brutality and dehumanization. But it’s also a stunning account of his own courage and spirit. On top, the writing is sparse, stark, and beautiful. 

By Albert Woodfox,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Solitary as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Praise for Solitary:

Named One of Barack Obama’s Favorite Books of 2019
Winner of the Stowe Prize
Named the Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities Book of the Year
Named a Best Book of the Year by the New York Times, the Washington Post, NPR, Publishers Weekly, BookBrowse, and Literary Hub
Winner of the BookBrowse Award for Best Debut of 2019
A New York Times Book Review Editors’ Choice

“An uncommonly powerful memoir about four decades in confinement . . . A profound book about…

Book cover of Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption

Mark Wish Author Of Necessary Deeds

From my list on gruesome murders and genuine love.

Why am I passionate about this?

I had the passion to write Necessary Deeds because: 1) as someone who'd spent 20+ years writing novels, dealing with untrustworthy literary agents, and book-doctoring other writers’ novels in order to pay rent, I'd come to know betrayal (“best friend” writers who stole drafts of mine and called them their own, novelists who backstabbed me after I helped them land agents and book contracts, and so on); 2) like many people who lived through the drug-and-alcohol-laced Eighties, I had a long relationship with someone that ended because they cheated on me. So I never doubted that, as I wrote Necessary Deeds, my heart knew well what motivated its characters.

Mark's book list on gruesome murders and genuine love

Mark Wish Why did Mark love this book?

Much as I enjoyed the film based on this novella by Stephen King (which I now understand is a standalone book—I read it as part of a story collection long ago), I enjoyed the novella more.

Why? Because of its extraordinarily likeable narrative voice, which has caused people worldwide to find themselves rooting for its narrator. How can you not want to know what’ll happen next to someone so candid and down-to-earth—who has experienced homicide and love so intensely? Especially when he wants intimacy yet also feels threatened by it.

In fact, just after I finished reading the Shawshank novella, I vowed to write a novel about someone in NYC who exuded those same attributes: candor, humility, and understated yet solid wisdom about murder and affairs of the heart. And after several years of writing with this goal, I finally tapped into the voice of Matt Connell, the narrator of…

By Stephen King,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The No. 1 bestselling author Stephen King's beloved novella, Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption - the basis for the Best Picture Academy Award-nominee The Shawshank Redemption - about an unjustly imprisoned convict who seeks a strangely satisfying revenge, is now available as a standalone book.

There's a guy like me in every state and federal prison in America, I guess - I'm the guy who can get it for you.

And new convict Andy Dufresne wants two things from fellow prisoner Red: a small rock-hammer for carving stones and a giant poster of Rita Hayworth.

So begins this mesmerising tale…

Book cover of Better, Not Bitter: Living on Purpose in the Pursuit of Racial Justice

Laura Whitfield Author Of Untethered: Faith, Failure, and Finding Solid Ground

From my list on taking risks, falling, and getting back up.

Why am I passionate about this?

After losing my beloved brother, I came to see the importance of taking risks and pursuing my dreams. What I learned is that with those risks come setbacks, even failure. I’ve lived a life of adventure and I’ve fallen down a lot, but I’ve also learned to get back up and go on. I love reading books about people who have learned resilience by trying, failing, gaining strength and wisdom, and carrying on. This experience is at the heart of what makes us human. It’s what connects us. I hope people who read my memoir will find the encouragement to keep going.

Laura's book list on taking risks, falling, and getting back up

Laura Whitfield Why did Laura love this book?

Better, Not Bitter is the inspiring story of Yusef Salaam, one of the Central Park Five (now Exonerated Five), who was arrested at fourteen and wrongfully incarcerated for seven years. While in prison, Yusef drew strength from his newfound faith—a faith that helped him survive the dangers he faced daily. In time, Yusef came to see that he was “born on purpose, with a purpose.” A powerful story of redemption and resilience, of one man’s mission to motivate others to make a difference in the world.

By Yusef Salaam,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Better, Not Bitter as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Named a Best Book of 2021 by NPR

This inspirational memoir serves as a call to action from prison reform activist Yusef Salaam, of the Exonerated Five, that will inspire us all to turn our stories into tools for change in the pursuit of racial justice.

They didn't know who they had.

So begins Yusef Salaam telling his story. No one's life is the sum of the worst things that happened to them, and during Yusef Salaam's seven years of wrongful incarceration as one of the Central Park Five, he grew from child to man, and gained a spiritual perspective…

Book cover of Junk Science and the American Criminal Justice System

Maurice Possley Author Of Hitler in the Crosshairs: A GI's Story of Courage and Faith

From my list on true stories with meaning and power.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a Pulitzer Prize winning journalist who has worked for the past 10 years as the senior researcher for the National Registry of Exonerations. In that capacity, I have written nearly 2,500 individual accounts of men and women and teenagers who were wrongly convicted of crimes they did not commit. Some of them were sentenced to death. I have seen and written about these tragedies firsthand.

Maurice's book list on true stories with meaning and power

Maurice Possley Why did Maurice love this book?

Chris Fabricant has written a compelling account of how the “junk science” of connecting bitemarks to human teeth has resulted in dozens of wrongful convictions of innocent people in America. I have known Chris for many years. He is a fierce advocate for truth and justice. This book powerfully exposes how forensic dentists have used methods with no scientific basis to convict the wrong people and the guilty people went free.

By M. Chris Fabricant,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Junk Science and the American Criminal Justice System as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Innocence Project attorney M. Chris Fabricant presents an insider’s journey into the heart of a broken, racist system of justice and the role junk science plays in maintaining the status quo.

Praise from John Grisham, author of A Time for Mercy: "No one in America will ever know the number of innocent people convicted, sent to prison, and even executed because of the flood of rotten forensics and bogus scientific opinions presented to juries. In this intriguing and beautifully crafted book, Innocence Project lawyer M. Chris Fabricant illustrates how wrongful convictions occur, and he makes it obvious how they could…

Book cover of A Shot in the Moonlight: How a Freed Slave and a Confederate Soldier Fought for Justice in the Jim Crow South

Diane Fanning Author Of Written in Blood

From my list on racism in the USA.

Why am I passionate about this?

I don’t know when I became aware of and bothered by racial inequality but looking back, I see touchstones that lighted my path even before Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech stiffened my spine in middle school. I participated in sit-ins at lunch counters and sat in the back of buses. Even though I was a white kid in a predominately white school, it became personal to me. The injustice and unfairness of prejudice and discrimination was the antithesis of what I believed was the promise of America. In recent years, the quiet background noise of racial inequity has amplified to an ugly level. I recommend these books as a start to understanding and rectifying the current unacceptable situation.

Diane's book list on racism in the USA

Diane Fanning Why did Diane love this book?

A riveting true story about a freed slave and a confederate soldier who fought for justice in the Jim Crow South. The freed slave became the first man to beat a lynch mob in court. His small blow to racism made him a hero but one few know. I cried at his setbacks and cheered for every small victory along the way. Once I started reading, I could not put it down.

By Ben Montgomery,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked A Shot in the Moonlight as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

After moonrise on the cold night of January 21, 1897, a mob of twenty five white men gathered in a patch of woods near Big Road in southwestern Simpson County, Kentucky. Half carried rifles and shotguns, and a few tucked pistols in their pants. Their target? George Dinning, a freed slave who'd farmed peacefully in the area for 14 years, and had been wrongfully accused of stealing livestock from a neighboring farm. When the mob began firing through the doors and windows of Dinning's house, he fired back in self-defense, shooting and killing the son of a wealthy Kentucky family.…

Book cover of Know My Name: A Memoir

Genevieve Kingston Author Of Did I Ever Tell You?: A Memoir

From my list on young women on journeys of self-discovery.

Why am I passionate about this?

As a young girl and aspiring writer, I was shocked when I learned how recently women had been afforded the right to publish under our own names. As a life-long reader of female authors, and lover of complex female protagonists, I’m passionate about supporting and sharing stories by and about women. As an author and playwright, I love to seek out buried narratives or minor characters, and put them center stage. I hope you enjoy these extraordinary books by these extraordinary women.

Genevieve's book list on young women on journeys of self-discovery

Genevieve Kingston Why did Genevieve love this book?

My overwhelming feeling after finishing this book was gratitude. I felt so grateful to Chanel Miller and to all the women who somehow find the courage and capacity to speak out about sexual assault.

Miller writes skillfully and devastatingly about the details of her own highly publicized attack on the Stanford Campus. I was glad to get to know the human being behind the headlines and to read an honest and meticulous account of the long legal process that follows such a harrowing event. I devoured this approachable, relatable, fearless book quickly, unable to put it down.

By Chanel Miller,

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked Know My Name as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Universally acclaimed, rapturously reviewed, winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award for autobiography, and an instant New York Times bestseller, Chanel Miller's breathtaking memoir "gives readers the privilege of knowing her not just as Emily Doe, but as Chanel Miller the writer, the artist, the survivor, the fighter." (The Wrap).

"I opened Know My Name with the intention to bear witness to the story of a survivor. Instead, I found myself falling into the hands of one of the great writers and thinkers of our time. Chanel Miller is a philosopher, a cultural critic, a deep observer, a writer's…

Book cover of The Guilty Mother

Jacqueline Grima Author Of The Weekend Alone

From my list on psychological thrillers that will have you gripped.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve been an avid psychological suspense reader since I was at school, but have only recently begun to write in the genre myself. I’m not sure why it took me so long. If it was my most favourite genre to read, then why not write in it? When I came up with the idea for The Weekend Alone, I knew I had to write it, and I finally discovered what other suspense authors already knew: that playing with a reader’s perception can be the most amazing fun! My next psychological suspense book will be out with HQ Digital in summer 2023. Here’s hoping my own thrillers will keep readers gripped long past lights out!

Jacqueline's book list on psychological thrillers that will have you gripped

Jacqueline Grima Why did Jacqueline love this book?

This gripping thriller moves between the past and the present to tell the story of Melissa Slade, a woman who seemed to have the perfect life before she was convicted of the murder of her two baby girls. As journalist Jonathan Hunt investigates the case, he has no idea what to believe. Is Melissa a lying and manipulative murderer or an innocent victim? You’ll want to keep turning the pages to find out!

By Diane Jeffrey,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Guilty Mother as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

'Stayed up late finishing this, just had to know what happened, brilliant final twist! Gripping page-turner with great characters'Sunday Times bestselling author B A Paris

She says she's innocent.


Melissa Slade had it all: beauty, money, a successful husband and beautiful twin babies. But, in the blink of an eye, her perfect life became a nightmare - when she found herself on trial for the murder of her little girls.


Jonathan Hunt covered the original Slade Babies case for the local newspaper. Now that new evidence has come to light, Jon's boss wants…