The Innocent and the Criminal Justice System

Naughton, M. (2013) The Innocent and the Criminal Justice System, (Palgrave Macmillan)


The Innocent and the Criminal Justice System examines competing perspectives on, and definitions of, miscarriages of justice to tackle these questions and more in this critical sociological examination of innocence and wrongful conviction. This book:

• is the first book of its kind to cover wrongful convictions, from definition and causation to
the limits of redress
• provides a wealth of case studies and statistics to apply theoretical discussions of the
criminal justice system to real-life situations
• discusses ideas and challenges that are highly relevant to current political and social debates

Elegantly written by a leading expert in the field, this book is essential reading for students of criminology, criminal justice and law, looking to understand the workings of the criminal justice system and how it can fail the innocent.


‘A compelling, provocative and engaging book that meticulously and persuasively unearths the vagaries and uncertainties of due process and the rule of law. It critiques and redefines notions of “innocence” and “justice” in ways that challenge values long upheld as cornerstones of democratic society. Michael Naughton is an innovative and inspiring thinker and this book confirms his status as a leading international authority on wrongful convictions and miscarriages of justice.’ – Reece Walters, Professor of Criminology, Queensland University of Technology, Australia

… written by an author with a long record of active engagement with miscarriages of justice issues, this gives the book a level of passion and insider, practical knowledge that distinguishes it from others in the field.’ – Professor Gerry Johnstone, University of Hull, UK

‘For too long lawyers and criminal justice scholars have been struggling to develop an adequate socio-legal account of miscarriages of justice and the factors that produce them as aberrations in our criminal justice system. In The Innocent and the Criminal Justice System Michael Naughton has taken us to a new goal and a new stage of analysis; an adequate socio-legal account of our criminal justice system itself, one in which such events are in fact a kind of norm.’ – Jonathan Simon, Adrian A. Kragen Professor of Law, University of California Berkeley, USA

‘…an important critique of a criminal justice system that sometimes convicts the innocent; is too reluctant to recognize its errors; and fails to adequately assist the wrongfully convicted, thus victimizing them once again.’ – C. Ronald Huff, Professor of Criminology, Law & Society and Sociology, University of California Irvine, USA

‘Naughton’s new book is expertly written. His experience gives his writing an engaging practical tone, while being squarely academic. The book is divided into practical sections covering causation, investigation and the (in)adequacy of redress. Without flinching, pillars of ‘British Justice’ are shown in an unflashy way to be in fact, irrelevant to the workings of the actual criminal justice system.’ – Elizabeth Forrester, Socialist Lawyer

‘Overall, the publication provides a detailed review and comprehensive reflection upon the many factors that precipitate a wrongful conviction, alongside personal case examples. Use of the distinguished concepts of ‘innocence’ and ‘miscarriages of justice’ pushes readers’ awareness, and he goes some way towards providing recommendations and suggestions for reform. The book calls into account the legitimate and – more worryingly – illegitimate yet common practices contributing to injustice, and produces strong arguments for a more inquisitorial system.’ – Criminology and Criminal Justice

‘This book offers an analysis of the criminal justice system from the perspective of those who, despite being factually innocent of crimes, are nevertheless convicted. While the principal focus of the book is on the difficulties faced by such persons in gaining official recognition of their innocence, it also covers the other hardships that they endure… The very useful list of references is testament to the author’s familiarity with the extensive and diverse range of source material in this area.’ – Richard Nobles, Queen Mary University of London, UK

Also reviewed in The Howard Journal of Crime and Justice 54(5): 546-547.