Redeeming Justice: From Defendant to Defender, My Fight for Equity on Both Sides of a Broken System
Attorney Adams recounts his case of racist-driven injustice, a decade of hard time, and the long road to a new life. This is a story about being wrongly accused of a crime because the alleged perpetrator was Black. In 1998, the author, then 18, was convicted of rape. Being Black and on trial was one strike, and then there were two more: Adams believed the truth would prevail (sadly, not the case), and his court-appointed lawyer got paid by the number of cases he closed, thus assuring little digging in the case. The author was sentenced to 28 years behind bars, going to some of the harshest prisons in the country, where he spent years in solitary confinement. Adams brings to his story flinch-making detail, evoking a fever dream of fear and confusion. In his cast of prison characters, there are both those who dehumanize and the ones who help you make it through. For his safety and sanity, Adams found work in the prison legal library, and in something straight out of Shawshank Redemption, he became the in-house legal adviser to those who were unjustly incarcerated, given poor legal counsel, and written up with phony disciplinary tickets. It is a remarkable tale of chance, circumstance, mind-boggling dedication, racism, survival, faith (“I go first because I look for any reason to get out of my cell. Then I realize I’m going to church because I feel emotionally and physically safe”), and admirable forbearance. There is rarely a minute when readers will not want to know what comes next, from prison to lawyering and fighting for not aspirational but equal justice, to how Adams handles each instance of anger, anxiety, guilt, and willpower in and out of prison. A consuming tale of a broken legal system, its trail of ruin, and the fortitude needed to overcome its scarring.