Killing Justice in the Lone Star State is a reality check on active Death Row cases (and some post-execution ones). The book offers a fresh perspective for campaigners and reformers which ranges across theory, policy and practice. It also explains the much criticised Texas ‘law of parties.’
‘A must read, an excellent new book by Mike O’Brien... A powerful critique... a critical comparative analysis of USA/UK human rights standards. Packed with cases. A compelling case for abolition.’-- Dr Michael Naughton, Bristol University, Empowering the Innocent Project.
Many organizations are engaged in a race to prevent the execution of death sentenced prisoners in Texas (and elsewhere in the USA). Some men and women on Death Row claim to be completely innocent as described in this book. Michael O’Brien — who was himself wrongly convicted of murder — dissects cases with the eye of someone who has spent years watching how miscarriages of justice happen and why. He explains how practitioners and others are in denial and tunnel vision helps to sustain politicians, livelihoods and profits that depend on a conveyor belt from the courts to the execution chamber. He describes a killing process aided by bias, discrimination, prejudice, unfair trials, supposed expert evidence and closed minds. This is just one hallmark of a country obsessed with guns, violence and the ultimate penalty. Texas is the most punitive place within one of the harshest penal systems in the world. But no legal system should take away human lives, especially one tarnished by defects of the kind the author sets out in this book.
‘Can you just imagine being an individual who is innocent but facing execution, whether in Texas or elsewhere? Or you were on Death Row but you did not take part in any killings, just got caught up in the hysteria? Can you picture the pressure and abject loneliness of serving 15 years or more, and then the State setting a date to kill you?’
Michael O’Brien is a survivor of one the most emblematic miscarriages of justice in Britain. Known as ‘The Cardiff Newsagent Three’ case, it has become a key point of reference for campaigners against injustice. His autobiography The Death of Justice (2008) recounts these events and Prisons Exposed (2013) was awarded the People’s Choice Book Award at Amazon. He is a motivational speaker and acts as an appropriate adult at police stations, and as a Mackenzie Friend for those who cannot get legal representation.