New and popular titles at Juniata County Library

BOOK REPORT

With so many good books being released all the time, it can be hard to determine what to check out next. Every week, I offer a run-down of significant releases available here at the library.

Visit our online card catalog at juniata.sparkpa.org to search today or call (717) 436-6378 to have a helpful library staff member assist you.

The Cadaver King and the Country Dentist: A True Story of Injustice in the American South, by Radley Balko & Tucker Carrington

I first read Balko several years back when he had an independent blog. Now a writer for the Washington Post, Balko teams up with Carrington, a criminal defense lawyer, to speak about wrongful convictions in Mississippi and the overarching corrupt criminal justice system, with a keen focus on a lying medical examiner and a dentist who concocted phony evidence based on bite marks on the bodies of crime victims.

The medical examiner is Steven Hayne; the dentist is Michael West. In the small world of detectives, lawyers, judges and journalists trying to reduce the number of innocent citizens in prison, the perplexing rise to influence of co-conspirators Hayne and West is well-known, as is their eventual disgrace. But the saga has never been explored in such depth. Carrington devotes his life to freeing innocent inmates, serving as director of the Innocence Project at the University of Mississippi School of Law. Balko’s (Rise of the Warrior Cop: The Militarization of America’s Police Forces, 2013) focus as an opinion journalist and investigative reporter is more broad, but he has experience chronicling innocence cases. Although the authors have reported on many wrongful convictions, the book focuses heavily on two murder cases, both involving innocent men: Levon Brooks and Kennedy Brewer, both of whom were exonerated after years in prison. Their expose of systemic injustice across Mississippi goes beyond Hayne and West to name prosecutors, judges, legislators, and others who catered to them. Why cater to two such craven incompetents? Because those inside the criminal justice system were more interested in closing cases (usually with black defendants) than in identifying the actual perpetrators. Detectives, prosecutors and judges intent on getting cases off the docket knew they could rely on Hayne and West to testify dishonestly under oath. The authors explain the motivations of Hayne and West: zealotry on the side of law enforcement, money for accepting a huge volume of cases to lie about in court under oath, and perhaps racism. You can find this book in our Adult Nonfiction section.

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2019 Winter Reading program at the library runs through March 20. Spend your winter months reading things you love!

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Vince Giordano has been the director of the Juniata County Library since 2015.

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