An Expendable Man: The Near-Execution of Earl Washington, Jr.

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9780814722220: An Expendable Man: The Near-Execution of Earl Washington, Jr.

How is it possible for an innocent man to come within nine days of execution? An Expendable Man answers that question through detailed analysis of the case of Earl Washington Jr., a mentally retarded, black farm hand who was convicted of the 1983 rape and murder of a 19-year-old mother of three in Culpeper, Virginia. He spent almost 18 years in Virginia prisons—9 1/2 of them on death row—for a murder he did not commit.

This book reveals the relative ease with which individuals who live at society's margins can be wrongfully convicted, and the extraordinary difficulty of correcting such a wrong once it occurs.

Washington was eventually freed in February 2001 not because of the legal and judicial systems, but in spite of them. While DNA testing was central to his eventual pardon, such tests would never have occurred without an unusually talented and committed legal team and without a series of incidents that are best described as pure luck.

Margaret Edds makes the chilling argument that some other “expendable men” almost certainly have been less fortunate than Washington. This, she writes, is “the secret, shameful underbelly” of America's retention of capital punishment. Such wrongful executions may not happen often, but anyone who doubts that innocent people have been executed in the United States should remember the remarkable series of events necessary to save Earl Washington Jr. from such a fate.

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About the Author:

As a reporter and now editorial writer for the Virginian-Pilot, the state's largest paper, Margaret Edds interviewed Earl Washington Jr. extensively and worked closely with his attorneys and all the principles of the case. She is the author of two critically acclaimed books on southern and African American issues, Free at Last and Claiming the Dream: The Victorious Campaign of Douglas Wilder of Virginia.

Review:

“Careful documentation. Edge-of-the-seat human drama. An exploration of loopholes in judicial safeguards against wrongful executions. An Expendable Man contains all of these—and more.”

-The Virginian-Pilot



“Best work of non-fiction about Virginia or by a Virginia author.”
-Manasas Journal Messenger



“The book is provocative for its vivid characterization and its study of the death penalty’s inherent flaws.”
- Newport News Press



“Explores the dark side of the system of capital punishment. The book not only goes into great detail in recording Earl Washington, Jr.’s near-execution but also incorporates some history of the Virginia legal system.”
-Criminal Justice Review



“Somewhere between the personal narratives found in H. Bruce Franklin’s collection Prison Writing in 20th-Century America, the critical work of Mumia Abu-Jamal, and the recent profusion of sociological studies of America's accelerated prison economy, An Expendable Man gives us a moving portrait of a broad-based struggle on behalf of one man, and implies ways in which the halls of justice might become more just.”
-Trial & Error



“Edds’s powerful telling of Washington's experience uses court documents, personal interviews, and a variety of other sources to illustrate the political and social circumstances surrounding this extraordinary case. This book invites the reader to think about how due process is carried out and implemented. An Expendable Man is a valuable study of not only the Virginia legal system, but also that of the United States.”

-Virginia Libraries



An Expendable Man forcefully describes how a number of deeply committed people resurrected the hope of an innocent man. Edds’s narrative painstakingly follows the sinuous protocols of due process in America. An Expendable Man gives us a moving portrait of a broad-based struggle on behalf of one man, and implies ways in which the halls of justice might become more just.”

-Rain Taxi

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Book Description New York University Press, United States, 2003. Hardback. Book Condition: New. Language: English . Brand New Book ***** Print on Demand *****. How is it possible for an innocent man to come within nine days of execution? An Expendable Man answers that question through detailed analysis of the case of Earl Washington Jr., a mentally retarded, black farm hand who was convicted of the 1983 rape and murder of a 19-year-old mother of three in Culpeper, Virginia. He spent almost 18 years in Virginia prisons-9 1/2 of them on death row-for a murder he did not commit. This book reveals the relative ease with which individuals who live at society s margins can be wrongfully convicted, and the extraordinary difficulty of correcting such a wrong once it occurs. Washington was eventually freed in February 2001 not because of the legal and judicial systems, but in spite of them. While DNA testing was central to his eventual pardon, such tests would never have occurred without an unusually talented and committed legal team and without a series of incidents that are best described as pure luck. Margaret Edds makes the chilling argument that some other expendable men almost certainly have been less fortunate than Washington. This, she writes, is the secret, shameful underbelly of America s retention of capital punishment. Such wrongful executions may not happen often, but anyone who doubts that innocent people have been executed in the United States should remember the remarkable series of events necessary to save Earl Washington Jr. from such a fate. Bookseller Inventory # APC9780814722220

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Book Description New York University Press, United States, 2003. Hardback. Book Condition: New. Language: English . Brand New Book ***** Print on Demand *****.How is it possible for an innocent man to come within nine days of execution? An Expendable Man answers that question through detailed analysis of the case of Earl Washington Jr., a mentally retarded, black farm hand who was convicted of the 1983 rape and murder of a 19-year-old mother of three in Culpeper, Virginia. He spent almost 18 years in Virginia prisons-9 1/2 of them on death row-for a murder he did not commit. This book reveals the relative ease with which individuals who live at society s margins can be wrongfully convicted, and the extraordinary difficulty of correcting such a wrong once it occurs. Washington was eventually freed in February 2001 not because of the legal and judicial systems, but in spite of them. While DNA testing was central to his eventual pardon, such tests would never have occurred without an unusually talented and committed legal team and without a series of incidents that are best described as pure luck. Margaret Edds makes the chilling argument that some other expendable men almost certainly have been less fortunate than Washington. This, she writes, is the secret, shameful underbelly of America s retention of capital punishment. Such wrongful executions may not happen often, but anyone who doubts that innocent people have been executed in the United States should remember the remarkable series of events necessary to save Earl Washington Jr. from such a fate. Bookseller Inventory # APC9780814722220

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