IPT Book Reviews

Title: Predator  Positive Review
Author: Jack Olson
Publisher: Delecorte Press, 1991

Delecorte Press
666 Fifth Avenue
New York, NY 10103
(800) 2214676
$19.95 (c) $5.99 (p)
 

Description:

This is a 365-page account of false arrest, police incompetence, police rule-breaking, lawyer and judge weaknesses, and general system failures.  The author describes the true case of Steve Titus, who appealed to a journalist for help after he was convicted of rape and sentenced to prison.  The journalist, Paul Henderson, began an investigation that won him a Pulitzer prize and established Titus's innocence. Titus then filed a lawsuit against the Port of Seattle Police Department for 20 million dollars.  The suit was settled out of court when Titus died of a heart attack three weeks before the trial.  The innocent man's surviving son is to receive 2.6 million dollars over the next 20 years.  The first check was accompanied by an apology from the police department.
 

Discussion:

Police tampering with evidence and lying? (see Hunt & Manning, 1991).  Judges and attorneys suckered into the court-as-game?  A rape task force that takes on feminist terrorist lines?  The whole law enforcement system made a mockery of our judicial system and concept of fairness in this case.  Perhaps the book's only omission is to treat the innocent man as the only victim, when (in a confession in prison), the real rapist admitted to 51 rapes.

This book is easy to read and hard to put down but should be read over several days to help control the reader's rage.  The story will send chills down the spine in all Americans who believe the police and courts will look out for their interests and rights.  A civil lawsuit as a correction for system failure (see Underwager, Clauss, & Wakefield, 1990) is almost always too late but fortunately, this case was corrected in time for Steve Titus to avoid incarceration.  However, his life was ruined by the wrongful conviction.  He lost his job, savings account and reputation.  Unfortunately, his death on the eve of the trial meant that he also lost the opportunity to confront those responsible.

Six years after the case was overturned, the police officer who tampered with the evidence died of a heart attack and was buried about 50 feet from Steve Titus.  He never apologized to the man he helped wrongfully convict.

All we have left is the message on the gravestone:

He fought for his day in court,
He was used, deceived, betrayed,
and denied justice even in death.

This book should be read by everyone who is concerned with justice. "Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty."
 

References:

Hunt, J., & Manning, P. K. (1991). The social context of police lying. Symbolic Interaction, 14(1), 51-70.

Underwager, R., Clauss, E., & Wakefield, H. (1990). A Suggested Civil Action When Falsely Accused. Issues in Child Abuse Accusations, 2(1), 27-51.

Reviewed by LeRoy Schultz, Professor of Social Work, West Virginia University.

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