Law & Disorder:: Inside the Dark Heart of Murder (Anglais) Poche – 29 juillet 2014
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Présentation de l'éditeur
John Douglas is. . .
"The FBI's pioneer and master of investigative profiling." –Patricia Cornwell
"At his best describing terrible crimes." –Houston Chronicle
"A real genius." –Entertainment Weekly
"At the top of his form." –James Patterson
It is mankind's most abominable crime: murder. No one is better acquainted with the subject and its wrenching challenges than John Douglas, the FBI's pioneer of criminal profiling, and the model for Agent Jack Crawford in The Silence of the Lambs. In this provocative and deeply personal book, the most prominent criminal investigator of our time offers a rare look into the workings not only of the justice system--but of his own heart and mind. Writing with award-winning partner Mark Olshaker, Douglas opens up about his most notorious and baffling cases--and shows what it's like to confront evil in its most monstrous form.
"Douglas can claim a rare authenticity regarding the evil that men do." --Kirkus Reviews
"A fascinating and, at times, graphic tour of the criminal mind." --Library Journal
Includes dramatic photos
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They begin with the Salem witch trials, an event far enough in the past so we all can recognize its absurdity. From there, they segue into a case where Douglas was misled for a time, and we begin to see the murky complexity of criminal investigations. Crime buffs know about the "Lipstick Killer" who scrawled a message on a victim's mirror, begging police to catch him. We were assured that he had been caught and convicted, but William Heirens steadfastly asserted his innocence when Douglas interviewed him in prison.
That was many years ago. Back then, Douglas reviewed the file, and the evidence looked good, but the case has always bothered him. Now he presents a fresh analysis in which he concludes that the police work was sloppy if not outright dishonest, and Heirens was almost certainly innocent. He spent many decades in prison for crimes he did not commit, until he died last year. It's too late to correct the injustice done to him, but it's never too late to get the truth on the record, because we can learn from it.
Much of Law and Disorder is about wrongful convictions, but the authors never lose sight of the anguish felt by crime victims and their families. They tell the harrowing story of Suzanne Collins, a promising young woman who was brutally murdered by someone who fought his execution for longer than Suzanne was alive. Suzanne's parents insisted on studying the autopsy report and photos. Douglas says this is not uncommon. In another case, where a little girl was beaten to death, her mother spent 45 minutes examining her child's battered body from head to toe. "She needed to take the suffering and pain onto herself and make it hers."
For Douglas, crime is up close and personal. He seethes when he describes the psychopaths who devastate entire families without a twinge of remorse. He understands why many oppose capital punishment, but he has no problem seeing the worst of the worst put to death.
He does have a problem - a big problem - with flawed investigations that convict innocent people and can lead to their execution. That is what happened to Cameron Todd Willingham, who died of lethal injection after being convicted of setting the house fire that killed his children. Experts now believe the fire was an accident, and they delivered a report in time to prevent the execution. The Texas governor's clemency board ignored it, and for Douglas, that was inexcusable.
Douglas investigated the unsolved murder of Jon Benet Ramsey, and he strongly believes her parents are innocent of the crime. He and Olshaker first laid out their arguments in The Cases that Haunt Us. The case has been a source of lasting frustration for Douglas. Many people still think the Ramseys are guilty, citing so-called evidence that cannot be refuted because it doesn't mean anything in the first place. In Law and Disorder, Douglas and Olshaker follow up on their earlier writing with a further attempt to explain what should have become obvious long ago. The Ramseys were never violent, and they did not suddenly take a wrecking ball to their own lives for no reason.
Douglas and Olshaker examine two other cases where the courts convicted innocent people who were ultimately released - the West Memphis Three, and Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito.
Douglas was deeply involved in the struggle to free the West Memphis Three. He tells an insider's tale that is riveting and unnerving. It shows the ease with which public authorities can turn a jury and an entire community against vulnerable people, without ever presenting any credible evidence.
The Knox-Sollecito case is one in which I became involved. I was delighted when Douglas agreed to review the evidence. I never doubted what his conclusion would be, and I'm honored to get a mention as the Friends of Amanda "Internet wizard." My main act of wizardry was to connect with a network of supporters who pooled their talent and did everything in their power to raise public awareness of the case and its glaring problems. They're an incredible bunch of people. Some are now advocating for other men and women who have been convicted of crimes they obviously did not commit. It turns out there are a lot of those cases. Most people just don't know about them.
Douglas notes that he has been called a publicity seeker, and that doesn't bother him. Nor should it. This is a guy with a wealth of experience in a field of importance to everyone. Criminal justice is the public's business. By taking an interest, and taking the time to become well informed, we the people can check the cynicism and complacency that run roughshod over innocent lives. It is our right to do so, and it serves our common interest. Law and Disorder is much more than a crime anthology. It shines a bright light on a problem that extends throughout the world. It will be the most important book many people read this year.
While reading the book, three recurrent questions became - (1) "How can we pride ourselves in believing the infallibility of our justice system when such atrocities occur with immunity?"; (2) "How, with all our technology, information, and 'evolved thinking,' can beliefs trump science, fiction trump fact, and black & white trump shades of grey?"; and (3)"How can we, as a society, prevent prejudice, self- interest, and political ambition from continuing to pollute our justice system?" Thankfully the authors in their summation, offer some well thought out suggestions addressing these concerns, but begging the question, "Will it take us another 300 years before we rid ourselves of repeating the atrocity of the Salem Witch Hunt?"
Bottom line - an intelligently reasoned discourse on criminal justice, the death penalty, delayed justice, and our naive presumption that we are all presumed innocent until proven otherwise in a court of law. Required reading for any student of criminal justice or anyone concerned with humanity and a civilized society.
To quote the dedicated FBI violent crimes investigator Steve Moore: "FACTS DETERMINE CONCLUSIONS -- The universal truism of investigation. The instant that one's conclusions determine or change the facts, you have corrupted the judicial system."
To quote Douglas: "There is also another phenomenon well known to those of us in law enforcement, medicine, and numerous other fields: The more you focus on something, the more of it you will find, if that's what you're looking for and want to find. It is like the first-year medical students who spontaneously develop symptoms of whatever disease they happen to be studying that week."
Douglas and Olshaker analyze high profile cases where the authorities started with conclusions, then pretzeled evidence and facts to fit these conclusions. From the Texas Board of Pardons, to the Boulder police and FBI, to the West Memphis Three prosecutors and judge, to the authorities in Perugia Italy, this book examines how a dispassionate pursuit of evidence was forsaken in favor of prejudice and politics. Hopefully we wonder how often this must be happening in not so high profile cases.
We've all seen the damage tunnel vision can do in our own respective professions. Close minded prosecutors and judges, acting with civil immunity, have a particularly nasty power to destroy innocent families and keep violent criminals out on the street.
Another focus of this book is capital punishment. The authors both criticize it and defend it as they spotlight various death penalty cases. It's a touchy subject.
This book has the authority of an insider, who was influential in many of the cases he describes here. The evolution of the support movement for the West Memphis Three was fascinating to me as I knew little about that angle of the case.
Although the authors made some practical suggestions about how to improve the system, I thought the book was lite in this area. But in a democracy it's up to all of us to oversee the justice system. We get whatever we deserve. I highly recommend this book.
In this new book, Douglas and Olshaker delve into cases were the prosecution has gone horribly wrong ... and, in one case which leads into a discussion about the death penalty and innocent people being put to death, the case of a man who proclaimed his innocence until the day he was put to death - only to have DNA evidence prove his guilt later on.
This book is a thought-provoking look at the justice system from the eyes of someone who has fought the good fight in several infamous cases ... and who continues to fight for right even though he's retired from the FBI.
Sure, this book might appeal more to the masses than Mr. Douglas' other works, as it deals with people who have been treated poorly by law enforcement and the legal system. Most people like those "Oprah moments" where they can sigh and pretend to care more about others than themselves. This would not be my M.O. for sure; I'm more of the type who likes to read crime books about crime and criminals myself. Like I've said many times, when I read true crime, I want to know the following: why did the criminal commit the crimes, what did the police do to catch him, and what was going on historically at the time. This book seems to only answer that third question on most cases, so I became bored by it all.
Mr. Douglas does bring up some good points here. As a matter of fact, I think that people who are innocent of crimes need to read true crime more than those that are guilty. This is so important that I will reiterate: If you are innocent, you need to know the law more than someone who is guilty.
For example, one of the best serial killer books that I've ever read was from Mr. Olsen, entitled "I: The Creation of a Serial Killer." That fine first-person account of Keith Hunter Jesperson (I believe that Mr. Olsen wrote it using Mr. Jesperson's "voice," and I believe this after listening to a prison interview from Mr. Jesperson himself) showed the dangers of "getting involved," or just being in the wrong place at the wrong time. There was a student who found the body of Mr. Jesperson's first victim; that student called the police and this innocent man became the immediate prime suspect. Later on, a woman who hated her boyfriend framed that boyfriend for the crime, the woman was willing to go to prison so her innocent boyfriend would be put behind bars too, and it was only "The Happy Face Killer" himself who contacted the police, telling them that he -- Mr. Jesperson -- was guilty of that murder. Ouch!
So, what are the "takeaways" from the "Happy Face" story? Well, one would be: if the police want to talk to you, "lawyer up" right away, especially if you're innocent. Mr. Douglas makes that statement in this book himself while describing the tragedy of the JonBonet Ramsey case, and how her parents were railroaded by incompetent Boulder cops. Two: if you are walking along the road, minding your own business, whistling a song along the way, and you happen to come across a dead body. . . . . Well, just walk away. And keep walking. Well, I suppose if you want to be a Good Samaritan: go to a pay phone (if you can find one nowadays, and don't use your own cell phone!), call the police with a disguised voice, alert them quickly of the body, hang up and keep walking. Would you like to spend the rest of your life in prison just because you were nice enough to report a crime? Not I.
This book does do a good job of bringing up some cautionary tales, and I liked how the author bookended it with the Salem Witch Trials at the front and the West Memphis Three case at the back. There were surely many similarities, particularly superstitious beliefs by the masses over time. But I believe that Mr. Douglas was guilty of overenthusiastic punctuation myself; in other words, too many exclamation points. Don't you hate it when people use too many exclamations! They really should be used sparingly!! They take your mind off what you're reading, and give you the impression that the writer is not being objective!!! (See how annoying that is?!?)
And this is part of the reason why I just gave up on this book about halfway through the sections on the West Memphis Three. I just got bored with it all, to tell you the truth, and I started to believe that the author was no longer objective on that case. Sure, it wasn't a boring story to the most-likely innocent people given long-term prison sentences. But sometimes, things just get lost in the translation. But my opinion surely will not be lost now on you: this book is a pretty big pass by me.