Surviving prison as an innocent person is a surreal nightmare no one wants to think about. But it can happen to you. 

Justin Brooks has spent his career freeing innocent people from prison. With You Might Go to Prison, Even Though You’re Innocent, he offers up-close accounts of the cases he has fought, embedding them within a larger landscape of innocence claims and robust research on what we know about the causes of wrongful convictions.

Putting readers at the defense table, this book forces us to consider how any of us might be swept up in the system, whether we hired a bad lawyer, bear a slight resemblance to someone else in the world, or are not good with awkward silence. The stories of Brooks’s cases and clients paint the picture of a broken justice system, one where innocence is no protection from incarceration or even the death penalty. Simultaneously relatable and disturbing, You Might Go to Prison, Even Though You’re Innocent is essential reading for anyone who wants to better understand how injustice is served by our system.

Justin Brooks is a criminal defense lawyer, law professor, and the Founding Director of the California Innocence Project, where he has spent decades freeing innocent people from prison. He is the author of the only legal casebook devoted to the topic of wrongful convictions and was portrayed by Academy Award–nominated actor Greg Kinnear in the feature film Brian Banks.


“The truest true crime you’ll ever read, and when it’s not scaring you, it will make your blood boil.”—BookTrib

“Justin Brooks exposes the deep flaws in our legal system that have unjustly led so many into prison and onto death row. How can we trust such a system to take away the lives of our citizens? We cannot.”—Sister Helen Prejean, author of Dead Man Walking

“If you thought it couldn’t happen to you, think again. You Might Go to Prison, Even Though You’re Innocent is a fascinating and chilling account of innocent people wrongly imprisoned, written by an attorney who has dedicated his life to freeing the wrongly accused. Brooks’s new book takes you to the front lines of this battle, where he makes clear with case after compelling case that our justice system has a long way to go before it can be a just system.”—Edward Humes, journalist and author of Burned: A Story of Murder and the Crime That Wasn’t

“If you’ve never imagined that you could be imprisoned for a crime you didn’t commit—I sure didn’t—Brooks is here to reveal the truth. But more important, he draws upon his decades of experience fighting these nightmarish injustices to reveal what we can do to spare innocent lives in the future.”—Amanda Knox, author of Waiting to Be Heard

“This compelling and engaging book shows how it really could happen to you: you could be convicted of a crime you did not commit. Brooks describes how an early case of an innocent woman who pleaded guilty and was sentenced to death transformed his career. Having since founded the California Innocence Project, and worked on scores of innocence cases, Brooks describes powerful accounts of how race, class, bad lawyering, and even outright lies contribute to wrongful convictions.”—Brandon L. Garrett, author of Autopsy of a Crime Lab

“Brooks has written an absorbing, smart, and important book that covers the landscape of wrongful convictions in the American criminal justice system and the path forward to preventing them. You Might Go to Prison, Even Though You’re Innocent is a narrative work of social science and policy translation at its best, a compelling, pragmatic, and invaluable journey to better understanding and rectifying the law’s ultimate nightmare—convicting the innocent. This book will be of interest to anyone who is concerned with the fairness of our trial procedures and the reliability of the evidence that is used to secure plea bargains and convictions in criminal cases. It should be required reading for all prosecutors and judges, not to mention police as well as criminal defense attorneys.”—Richard A. Leo, author of Police Interrogation and American Justice

“Brooks has been on the front lines of the fight to free the innocent from prison for decades. His compelling book shows how easy it is for innocent people to go to prison and how hard it is to free them. You Might Go to Prison, Even Though You’re Innocent should be required reading for every law enforcement officer and every prosecutor in the United States and around the world.”—Jeremy DeConcini, former Special Agent, US Department of Homeland Security

“Brooks’s trek from San Diego to Sacramento is symbolic of his dedication to his clients, his commitment to freeing the wrongly convicted, and his optimism despite overwhelming obstacles in the journey for justice. His book is a litany of examples of how our criminal justice system makes wrongful convictions so easy and setting them aside so difficult. Brooks stands with those warriors who persist in the fight for justice no matter how long the effort or how many defeats along the way. They battle not only for all those wrongfully convicted but for all of us who need protectors of our rights and freedom. Every law student dreams of freeing an innocent person; Brooks lives that dream.”—Lee Sarokin, former US Circuit Judge of the US Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit

You Might Go to Prison, Even Though You’re Innocent is the kind of book that robs you of your peace. It unpacks—tale after heartbreaking tale—how ‘court guilt’ can blow the doors off judicial safeguards and overwhelm innocence with ease. Long before your jaws rehinge, the truth hits: guilt often comes down to gamesmanship, we live a hairsbreadth from the unthinkable, you might go to prison even if you haven’t done a thing.”—Catherine Pugh, Attorney, formerly with the Department of Justice Civil Rights Division, Special Litigation Section


Rights: Available worldwide
Pages: 232
ISBN: 9780520386839
Trim Size: 6 x 9
Illustrations: 10 b/w illustrations

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