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Beyond Innocence: The Life Sentence of Darryl Hunt (Hardcover)

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Beyond Innocence: The Life Sentence of Darryl Hunt By Phoebe Zerwick Cover Image
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Staff Reviews

Even though I lived in Raleigh at the time of Darryl Hunt's exoneration I realize, after reading this account, that what I knew about Darryl and his case was at a very superficial level.  Zerwick brings together the facts of the case and the people involved.  I read years ago about the first man exonerated by DNA testing and tragically the conduct of the justice dept was very similar in both cases.  In a horrific act of violence the police and justice dept are under extreme pressure to find the culprit and often build very flimsy threads of evidence to meet the demand.

It was enlightening to understand these details but two other very important points were made.
Without Zerwick's tenacious search for the truth, Hunt would not have been exonerated and an innocent man would have languished in prison for the rest of his life. Investigative journalist are vital to the community.

She also delves into the psychological residuals of being wrongfully accused of a crime even after exoneration.  The person is still a criminal in many people's mind.  The victim lives every day with nightmares of treatment in prison, of losing so many years of a life because, at best, a mistake had been made.

This is a powerful account of a man's life and an urgent call to everyone to become more knowledgeable about all the ramifications of decisions made by the justice system.

— Rene


A deeply reported, gripping narrative of injustice, exoneration, and the lifelong impact of incarceration, Beyond Innocence is the poignant saga of one remarkable life that sheds vitally important light on the failures of the American justice system at every levelIn June 1985, a young Black man in Winston-Salem, N.C. named Darryl Hunt was falsely convicted and sentenced to life in prison for the rape and murder of a white copyeditor at the local paper. Many in the community believed him innocent and crusaded for his release even as subsequent trials and appeals reinforced his sentence. Finally, in 2003, the tireless efforts of his attorney combined with an award-winning series of articles by Phoebe Zerwick in the Winston-Salem Journal led to the DNA evidence that exonerated Hunt. Three years later, the acclaimed documentary, The Trials of Darryl Hunt, made him known across the country and brought his story to audiences around the world.But Hunt's story was far from over. As Zerwick poignantly reveals, it is singularly significant in the annals of the miscarriage of justice and for the legacy Hunt ultimately bequeathed. Part true crime drama, part chronicle of a life cut short by systemic racism, Beyond Innocence powerfully illuminates the sustained catastrophe faced by an innocent person in prison and the civil death nearly everyone who has been incarcerated experiences attempting to restart their lives. Freed after nineteen years behind bars, Darryl Hunt became a national advocate for social justice, and his case inspired lasting reforms, among them a law that allows those on death row to appeal their sentence with evidence of racial bias. He was a beacon of hope for so many--until he could no longer bear the burden of what he had endured and took his own life.Fluidly crafted by a master journalist, Beyond Innocence makes an urgent moral call for an American reckoning with the legacies of racism in the criminal justice system and the human toll of the carceral state.

About the Author

Phoebe Zerwick is an award-winning investigative journalist, narrative writer, and college teacher. Her writing has appeared in O, The Oprah Magazine, National Geographic, The Nation, Winston-Salem Journal, and Glamour, among other publications. Her work has been recognized by The Nieman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard University, Investigative Reporters and Editors, the Society of Professional Journalists, Columbia University, and the North Carolina Press Association and featured in the HBO documentary The Trials of Darryl Hunt. She is the director of the journalism program at Wake Forest University.

Product Details
ISBN: 9780802159373
ISBN-10: 0802159370
Publisher: Atlantic Monthly Press
Publication Date: March 8th, 2022
Pages: 320
Language: English

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