Through the lens of her work with the Innocence Movement and client Leigh Stubbs — a woman denied a fair trial in 2000 largely due to her sexual orientation — innocence litigator, activist and founder of West Virginia Innocence Project Valena Beety examines the failures in America’s criminal legal system and the reforms necessary to eliminate wrongful convictions — particularly with regards to women, the queer community and people of color.
When Beety became a federal prosecutor, her goal was to protect victims, especially women, from cycles of violence. What she discovered was that prosecutions often fail to help victims, relying on false information, forensic fraud, and police and prosecutor misconduct.
Seeking change, Beety began working in the Innocence Movement, helping to free factually innocent people through DNA testing and criminal justice reform. "Manifesting Justice" focuses on the story of Beety’s client Leigh Stubbs — a young, queer woman in Mississippi convicted of a horrific crime she did not commit. Beety weaves Stubbs’ harrowing narrative through the broader story of a broken criminal justice system where defendants are convicted due to racism, prejudice, coerced confessions and false identifications.
Drawing on interviews with innocence advocates and wrongfully convicted women, along with Beety’s experiences as an expert litigator and a queer woman, "Manifesting Justice" provides a unique outsider-insider perspective. Beety expands our notion of justice to include people who are factually innocent as well as those who are over-charged, pressured into bad plea deals and over-sentenced. The result is a riveting and timely book that will transform our very ideas of crime and punishment, what innocence is and who should be free.
Praise for this book
“As a former federal prosecutor and innocence litigator, Beety applies tactical analysis and correctives to a process that she has spent her entire professional life both studying and navigating.”
“This is a book we need, and one that real reformers and activists won't just read, but use, consult and look to for guidance in the fight for a more equitable system.”