The first book to explore a shocking yet all-too-common type of wrongful conviction—
one that locks away innocent people for crimes that never actually happened.
Rodricus Crawford was convicted and sentenced to die for the murder by suffocation of his beautiful baby boy. After years on death row, evidence confirmed what Crawford had claimed all along: he was innocent, and his son had died from an undiagnosed illness. Crawford is not alone. A full one-third of all known exonerations stem from no-crime wrongful convictions.
The first book to explore this common but previously undocumented type of wrongful conviction, Smoke but No Fire tells the heartbreaking stories of innocent people convicted of crimes that simply never happened. A suicide is mislabeled a homicide. An accidental fire is mislabeled an arson. Corrupt police plant drugs on an innocent suspect. A false allegation of assault is invented to resolve a custody dispute. With this book, former New York City public defender Jessica S. Henry sheds essential light on a deeply flawed criminal justice system that allows—even encourages—these convictions to regularly occur. Smoke but No Fire promises to be eye-opening reading for legal professionals, students, activists, and the general public alike as it grapples with the chilling reality that far too many innocent people spend real years behind bars for fictional crimes.
Jessica S. Henry was a public defender for nearly ten years in New York City before joining the Department of Justice Studies at Montclair State University, where she is associate professor. She is also a criminal justice expert, legal commentator, and blogger, with a particular focus on wrongful convictions, police corruption and misconduct, mass incarceration, and the death penalty.
Raman Gill's criminal defense career began as a public defender in Dallas, Texas. She went on to work at Texas Appleseed, where she was the lead advocate in establishing the nation’s first mental health public defender’s office. She is now in private practice with Sumpter & Gonzalez in Austin, Texas, where she defends clients charged with crimes ranging from misdemeanors to murder.