WHO: Sarah Burns
THE CENTRAL PARK FIVE:
A Chronicle of a City Wilding
Published by Knopf May 17, 2011
New York City’s Central Park
“Especially powerful…a superb addition to the growing literature of wrongful convictions.
“On Apr. 20, 1989, the battered body of a young professional female turned up in Central Park. Though she was near death after a savage beating and massive blood loss, she survived. In the park that night, a group of more than 30 adolescents had been committing lesser but still serious crimes involving violence against men and women. New York City police began focusing on some of the members of that larger group, and decided quickly that probably eight of the young males had participated in the rape.
“Only one of the youths charged with the crime was age 16 at the time, and police interrogated him without adults present. The interrogators extracted a confession of sorts from the 16-year-old, and used questionable tactics to gain partial admissions of guilt from four others under age 16. A jury convicted three of the youths during one trial, and two other youths at a separate trial. All served hard time in juvenile or adult correctional facilities despite evidence that never added up if looked at dispassionately.
“Burns reveals astoundingly incompetent police work. Only two days before the incident, another woman had been assaulted in Central Park in a similar manner. Furthermore, the actual perpetrator attracted police notice right away but never underwent meaningful questioning. If he had not finally confessed while in prison, the five wrongfully convicted defendants might never have seen their reputations cleared.
“Burns’ examination is especially powerful because she moves beyond the specific crimes to examine the poisonous combination of police tunnel vision, over-aggressiveness by prosecutors, inept defense attorneys, inaccurate journalists and portions of society so racist that the inability to detect lies infected an entire city.”
“A controversial and important book.” —Alan M. Dershowitz
Publicist for this title:
Erinn Hartman | 212-572-2345 | firstname.lastname@example.org