Hot New Release in Criminal Law: “The Corruption of Innocence: A Journey for Justice”

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Lori St John’s untold story of the controversial death penalty case of Joseph Roger O’Dell exposes alleged political corruption and calls for reform and accountability for prosecutorial and police misconduct.

Lori St John gives behind-the-scenes access to the back story of Joseph O’Dell’s conviction and execution in “The Corruption of Innocence: A Journey for Justice.” Lori St John, Esq., founder and director of the Innocence Project at Rutgers School of Law, shares the riveting details and underlying politics of her almost four year battle to discover the truth and prevent the unjust execution of Joseph O’Dell. St John discusses for the first time why she married a death row inmate hours before his scheduled execution, and reveals what steps the Department of Corrections and the Commonwealth of Virginia took to protect their conviction, at all costs.

“This book urges change in this country’s criminal justice system and promotes the need for accountability for prosecutorial and police misconduct,” says St John. “Continued exonerations persists today because the underlying reasons for wrongful convictions have not changed. The use of jailhouse snitches, questionable witnesses, suppressed evidence and junk science made to undeniably point a finger at a suspect are among them.”

St John’s unwavering determination drove her mission for truth to a cause célèbre when she championed worldwide support, including the Italian and European Parliaments, Pope John Paul II Mother Teresa and Sister Helen Prejean, in this unprecedented and historic case.

The Corruption of Innocence speaks to the current legal landscape of the over 1,200 exonerations in the United States. St John, a volunteer crusading on O’Dell’s behalf, brought DNA testing to the forefront and inspired changes in the law regarding access to DNA testing. O'Dell was the first person to ask for DNA testing to prove his innocence in 1986. More than 300 incarcerated prisoners with claims of innocence have since been freed utilizing this scientific tool. Highlighted as one of four Cases of Innocence, O’Dell’s case shined a spotlight on American injustice.
Joseph O’Dell’s case highlights what can happen behind closed doors that causes 50 Brooklyn murder cases to be investigated, calling into question the legitimacy of Detective Louis Scarcella’s convictions; or why Willie Manning was denied DNA testing by the Mississippi state supreme court and the governor. In a landmark decision, a judge found the prosecutor criminally responsible for withholding exculpatory evidence in the case of Michael Morton in Texas.

“It’s time we use oversight systems, like the Conviction Integrity Unit in Brooklyn, to continue to identify and spotlight gross miscarriages of justice. If we unite to underscore the importance of transparency, integrity and accountability, the underlying causes of wrongful convictions will begin to decline,” adds St John.

“This amazing story of a woman’s valiant attempts to save an innocent man from execution might seem like a hyped-up, overwrought suspense novel. But everything told in these pages actually happened. Fasten your seat belt. It’s going to take you for quite a ride.”
~ Sister Helen Prejean, csj, Author of Dead Man Walking

“There can’t be many people left in Italy who have never heard of Joseph Roger O’Dell III, an inmate in Virginia’s death row who, but for an eleventh-hour stay of execution issued by the Supreme Court, would have been put to death… by lethal injection.”
~The New York Times, World Section

“I really can’t remember another story like this. I mean Joe O’Dell got a standing ovation in the Italian Parliament...The last time that happened was when we won the World Cup in 1982.”
—Vittorio Zucconi. la Repubblica, one of Italy’s largest circulating newspapers.

“Lori St John's book is exactly what the main stream media and politicians don’t want you to know: that there still are people who care about the truth and justice more than their own self serving motives and careers. In painstaking, passionate detail, step by step like a Perry Mason thriller, Lori takes you through the true story of a justice system betrayed by ego and apathy. Her relentless journey on the wings of integrity and ethics - and even simple human love and dignity - carry us beyond the blatant misdeeds that blinded justice to the clear facts of the case of Joseph Odell. "The Corruption" is a brilliant call to action for all Americans of conscience to stand up to a culture of greed, and stand for the glorious human spirit in every citizen - even those convicted of murder.”—Nick Lowery, NFL Kansas City Chiefs Hall of Famer, Harvard MPA and White House Office of National Service for both President Bill Clinton and George HW Bush.

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Suzy Ginsburg

* Miami Herald, September 15th, 2013

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