GOOD KIDS, BAD CITY A Story of Race and Wrongful Conviction in America By Kyle Swenson
Journalists fortunate enough to have started their careers at small-town newspapers or on city desks at metro dailies know about the jailhouse mail. The envelopes arrive every so often, packed almost to rupture with handwritten letters and supporting documentation meant to provoke the recipient into investigating the sender’s agitated claim of innocence. One of my own regrets as a reporter is not having done more with the letters I got — because you never know.
Kyle Swenson got some of those letters while on staff early this decade at The Cleveland Scene, the city’s alternative weekly. And he also got a phone call. Not from a man in prison, but from a man named Kwame Ajamu, who had been released on parole in 2003 after serving 28 years for a 1975 murder he said he had nothing to do with. Looking back, Swenson conjectures that one reason he took Ajamu’s claims as seriously as he did was that Ajamu was so committed to press his case despite having already gotten out. He wanted his name cleared — and most of all, he wanted to free his brother and friend, who were still behind bars for the same murder.
Swenson, a product of the Cleveland suburbs and not long out of college, decided to dig in. His resulting article, published in June 2011, would represent a major step on the path to vindication for the men. Three years later, they would make the history books for an ambiguous honor: With a combined 106 years in prison, theirs was most likely the longest wrongful imprisonment to end in an exoneration in the history of the United States.
This is the story Swenson sets out to recount in his book, though he makes plain early on that it is not the only story he is going to tell. Tales of exoneration after wrongful imprisonment face some fundamental narrative challenges. For one thing, the outcome is already known: long-overdue vindication. For another thing, these accounts present a dramatic situation that is almost too vast to conceive of — the nightmare of spending a decade or two or three locked away for a crime you didn’t commit — while at the same time often fairly pedestrian and limited in its legal particulars. It’s the sort of story that is both too big for a book, and not big enough. To address the latter problem, Swenson has paired his account of what happened to these three men with the story of the city in which they were arrested and convicted.
Also suffering, though, was Ed Vernon, whose life spins into a spiral of crack addiction. He spends two years behind bars on a drug charge. Later, he encounters Wiley, out on parole before being returned to prison for a parole violation, and rebuffs his pleas to come clean about the case. The break finally comes when a local pastor manages to confront Vernon about his decades-old lies, which dissolve in a sudden upsurge of self-liberating honesty.
It is only now, when the truth pours out of Vernon, that the context of the lies becomes known: the pressure that detectives were putting on him to deliver on his claim to having witnessed the killing, going so far as to threaten him with perjury charges. The role of these officers was so crucial that one is left wanting to know more about them. Swenson sketches the rise of tough-on-crime policing in the 1970s that formed the backdrop of the officers’ actions, but they are individuals, like Vernon and the defendants, whose motives and moral agency could have used more expansive treatment. Swenson’s account of the War on Crime context also elides the role that was played by demands from within the black community to take on drug dealers.
Another shortcoming is one of excess, not absence. Swenson has a predilection for figurative language that occasionally hits the lyrical mark but more often distracts. Just in the book’s first two paragraphs one encounters “roadways split like bad fruit,” “a bent elbow of sidewalk” and “drivers slinging past us like pinballs,” among several other metaphor- and simile-laden sentences.
It’s almost as if Swenson doesn’t entirely trust his material to carry a book without his stylistic embellishment. But it does. It’s the story of a grave injustice, whose long-overdue correction delivers a strong emotional punch when it finally arrives. More broadly, it’s a story about negligence, about all the ways in which residents of cities such as Cleveland have been left abandoned by government and society at large.
There’s so much talk these days about the great urban rebirth that the persistent struggles of non-superstar cities are too often overlooked. Swenson does a service simply by capturing the daily demoralization of existence in such a place: “It was hard to tally the net effect all this institutional calamity had on your average Clevelander,” he writes. “When the basics of your city — catching killers or putting diplomas in kids’ hands or stabilizing a tax base — don’t work anymore, there’s a feeling of being edged out of the American mainstream.”
A big part of that abandonment involves the media: The plight of these cities is increasingly at risk of being ignored because there are so few reporters left to document it. Swenson is now at The Washington Post. Cleveland is lucky to still have The Scene — many other cities have lost their alt-weeklies — but the city’s daily paper, The Plain Dealer, has been debilitated by cutbacks. One can’t help wondering what life-shattering injustices might go unaddressed in the future for lack of a curious reporter to take a call or open an envelope.B:
雷峰高手联盟（【求】【收】【藏】！【求】【订】【阅】！【求】【推】【荐】！） 【的】【确】【有】【人】【被】【清】【除】【了】。 【但】【不】【是】【步】【凡】，【而】【是】【被】【嫉】【妒】【心】【控】【制】【了】【理】【智】【的】【查】【理】【曼】！ 【加】【里】【塔】【诺】【把】【查】【理】【曼】【下】【放】【到】【了】【二】【队】。 【这】【迫】【使】【查】【理】【曼】【自】【己】【主】【动】【提】【出】【转】【会】。 【打】【二】【队】，【他】【丢】【不】【起】【那】【个】【人】！ 【把】【查】【理】【曼】【清】【除】【出】【队】【后】。 【莱】【加】【内】【斯】【队】【内】，【便】【没】【有】【了】【不】【和】【谐】【的】【声】【音】。 【而】【四】【天】【后】，【球】
【两】【道】【白】【线】【几】【乎】【是】【不】【分】【先】【后】【地】【冲】【上】【天】【空】，【没】【有】【过】【于】【夸】【张】【的】【动】【静】，【如】【果】【不】【是】【被】【源】【力】【撕】【成】【粉】【末】【的】【树】【干】【和】【树】【叶】【和】【被】【波】【及】【到】【簌】【簌】【下】【落】【的】【一】【场】【叶】【雨】，【这】【几】【乎】【就】【是】【一】【幕】【无】【声】【的】【黑】【白】【哑】【剧】。 【鬼】【面】【妖】【们】【停】【在】【原】【地】，【身】【体】【缩】【在】【长】【长】【的】【节】【肢】【中】【瑟】【瑟】【发】【抖】。 【这】【种】【情】【况】【下】，【妖】【族】【永】【远】【都】【比】【低】【等】【兽】【族】【知】【道】【惜】【命】。 【脸】【色】【苍】【白】【的】【少】【年】【保】【持】【着】【原】【来】
【夜】【空】【之】【上】， 【悬】【浮】【着】【一】【颗】【巨】【大】【的】【陨】【石】，【笼】【罩】【着】【方】【圆】【千】【里】【的】【天】【与】【地】，【震】【杀】【出】【世】【界】【末】【日】【般】【的】【恐】【怖】【威】【能】！ 【这】【样】【的】【画】【面】，【光】【是】【在】【脑】【海】【中】【想】【象】【一】【下】，【都】【足】【以】【令】【人】【倒】【吸】【凉】【气】，【头】【皮】【发】【麻】，【双】【腿】【发】【软】！ 【但】， 【令】【人】【最】【恐】【惧】【的】【却】【是】，【这】【颗】【从】【天】【而】【降】，【巨】【大】【无】【比】，【蕴】【含】【着】【惊】【世】【杀】【机】【的】【椭】【圆】【形】【陨】【石】，【竟】【然】，【被】【人】【用】【一】【道】【拳】【芒】【给】【贯】【穿】
【乔】【若】【馨】【见】【大】【汉】【呆】【滞】【的】【眼】【中】【有】【一】【丝】【猩】【红】【划】【过】，【举】【着】【石】【化】【的】【巨】【掌】【就】【朝】【她】【拍】【来】，【眯】【了】【眯】【眼】【睛】，【最】【佳】【的】【出】【手】【时】【机】【来】【了】。 【推】【山】【兽】【石】【化】【之】【后】【有】【一】【个】【弱】【点】【那】【就】【是】【会】【暂】【时】【性】【的】【丧】【尸】【理】【智】，【它】【的】【脊】【背】【有】【一】【个】【穴】【道】【点】【中】【后】【会】【暂】【时】【瘫】【痪】【几】【息】【的】【时】【间】，【她】【要】【的】【就】【是】【让】【它】【彻】【底】【的】【发】【狂】。 “【乔】【若】【馨】【小】【心】。”【孙】【烨】【见】【状】【飞】【身】【而】【起】【就】【要】【来】【帮】【忙】。 雷峰高手联盟“【你】【们】【不】【是】【应】【该】【在】【规】【则】【之】【海】【吗】？” 【安】【少】【棠】【看】【着】【皇】【甫】【逸】，【又】【望】【了】【望】【旁】【边】【的】【青】【年】。 【想】【来】，【这】【便】【是】【姬】【族】【皇】【子】【姬】【天】【佑】【了】。 【师】【父】【特】【意】【问】【过】【姬】【天】【佑】【的】【情】【况】，【貌】【似】【和】【姬】【天】【佑】【有】【仇】，【还】【特】【意】【去】【规】【则】【之】【海】【找】【寻】。 【以】【师】【父】【的】【修】【为】，【若】【是】【碰】【到】，【姬】【天】【佑】【没】【可】【能】【逃】【脱】，【看】【来】【是】【在】【规】【则】【之】【海】【没】【有】【遇】【到】。 “【总】【不】【能】【一】【辈】【子】【待】【在】【里】【面】
【进】【化】【者】【又】【对】【着】【不】【敢】【动】【手】，【站】【在】【那】【死】【相】【凄】【惨】【孕】【妇】【边】【上】，【犹】【豫】【不】【前】【的】【壮】【汉】【叫】【骂】【起】【来】。 【壮】【汉】【被】【骂】【的】【全】【身】【一】【抖】，【随】【后】【他】【咬】【着】【牙】，【眯】【起】【眼】【睛】，【狠】【下】【心】【就】【一】【把】【从】【浑】【浊】【血】【水】【中】【捞】【起】【一】【只】【血】【手】。 【最】【后】【就】【和】【在】【溪】【水】【中】，【淌】【着】【水】【行】【走】【一】【般】，【哗】【啦】【哗】【啦】【声】【响】【中】。 【壮】【汉】【跟】【拖】【死】【狗】【一】【般】【拖】【着】【血】【人】，【血】【人】【后】【面】【是】【一】【层】【的】【血】【水】【被】【划】【起】【波】【澜】。
【兽】【人】【大】【军】【走】【得】【非】【常】【的】【干】【净】【利】【落】，【让】【天】【风】【联】【盟】【的】【众】【人】【感】【到】【非】【常】【的】【不】【可】【思】【议】。 【当】【下】【了】【游】【戏】【之】【后】，【林】【萧】【主】【动】【联】【系】【上】【李】【天】【琦】【时】，【他】【才】【知】【道】【是】【因】【为】【什】【么】【原】【因】【了】。 【原】【来】【是】【林】【萧】【一】【个】【命】【令】【直】【接】【将】【兽】【人】【军】【团】【给】【调】【回】【去】【的】。 【林】【萧】【的】【意】【思】【很】【明】【确】，【那】【就】【是】【鹰】【蹄】【帝】【国】【现】【在】【的】【主】【要】【敌】【人】【是】【宁】【远】【的】【神】【鹰】【帝】【国】，【所】【以】【他】【希】【望】【李】【天】【琦】【能】【够】【克】【制】