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Mean Justice

A Town's Terror, A Prosecutor's Power, A Betrayal of Innocence

Deep in the heartland of California lies a city on the cutting edge of the nation's war on crime. Besieged by spectacular crimes in which pillars of the community were accused of murder, rape and the most vile conspiracies, Bakersfield found its saviors in a band of bold and savvy prosecutors. They descended on the courthouse like avenging angels, winning their cases, forging sweeping new laws and creating one of the toughest towns on crime in America -- a model for the rest of the country.
There is only one problem: The people who were arrested, tried and imprisoned in those landmark cases were innocent.
In Mean Justice, award-winning author and journalist Edward Humes embarks on a chilling journey to the dark side of the justice system -- the powerful true story of one man's battle to prove his innocence. It is a story both deeply personal and sweeping in scope, for Humes shows how the individual injustice done to one man is part of a disturbing national trend, in which innocence becomes the unintended casualty of the war on crime, and the immense new powers of prosecutors -- from Main Street to Wall Street to Pennsylvania Avenue -- are dangerously unchecked.
Combining the investigative reporting skills that earned him a Pulitzer Prize with the gifted storytelling honored by a PEN literary award, Humes tells how retired high-school principal Pat Dunn was prosecuted for killing his wife to inherit her millions. As taut and exciting as a suspense novel, Mean Justice reveals how Dunn's case was tainted by hidden witnesses, concealed evidence and behind-the-scenes lobbying by powerful politicians. More horrifying still, there were many such cases in this All-American town, where a well-meaning desire for public safety led to something dark and terrible and unjust. Finally, Humes asks whether the mean justice dispensed in Bakersfield, California, may be fast becoming the norm for the rest of the country, where, in our zeal for order, we are increasingly forgiving prosecutorial misconduct. American cities are enjoying their lowest crime rates in decades. But at what price? Mean Justice provides an answer both compelling and frightening.

David P. Bayles

Edward Humes, winner of the Pulitzer Prize for specialized reporting, is the author of many critically acclaimed nonfiction books including, Monkey Girl, School of Dreams, Mississippi Mud, Mean Justice, and Garbology. He is currently writer-at-large for Los Angeles Magazine and lives in California. Visit EdwardHumes.com.

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