Americans are finally paying attention to the deeply fucked up problem of cops coercing false confessions from innocent people—just one of many, many reasons you probably shouldn't talk to the fuzz without a lawyer. Part of that newfound awareness is thanks, in part, to the advent of true crime series like The Confession Tapes, Making a Murderer, and Amanda Knox. But before all those, there was John Grisham's book The Innocent Man: Murder and Injustice in a Small Town, detailing the true story of two men who were accused of beating, raping, and killing a 21-year-old waitress named Debra Sue Carter in Ada, Oklahoma, in 1982.
After spending over a decade each in prison, Ron Williamson and Dennis Fritz were exonerated by the Innocence Project through DNA evidence in 1999. Williamson was days away from being executed by the state when his death sentence was stayed.
On Monday, Netflix dropped a trailer for a miniseries based on the book, which you can watch above. “If I wrote The Innocent Man as a novel, folks probably wouldn’t believe it,” Grisham says in the clip, which includes a mix of interviews, dramatic recreations, and footage of the actual coerced confessions—a kind of road map for what we can expect from the series. The whole thing looks harrowing—almost like a grittier, thornier Making a Murderer—that, yet again, promises to lay bare one of the most disturbing flaws in the American criminal justice system.
Check out The Innocent Man when it hits Netflix on December 14.
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- true crime
- John Grisham
- The innocent man
- false confessions