Lori St John, Esq. Releases Debut, 'The Corruption of Innocence: A Journey for Justice'
This month readers will gain behind-the-scenes access to the back story of Joseph O'Dell's conviction and execution when "The Corruption of Innocence: A Journey for Justice" makes its debut. 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.