The Law: Neither Truth nor Victory

Sentenced to death for the brutal murder of a 15 year-old New Jersey girl, the cocky young high school dropout stubbornly refused to admit any guilt. During 14 years on death row, a record in U.S. penal history, he argued his innocence in court appeals and a remarkably well-written book (Brief Against Death). Last week Edgar Smith, now 37, became a free man. His release did not mean that he had been pardoned or acquitted; instead, he made a carefully rehearsed public confession. The extraordinary exercise in plea bargaining not only obscured the truth but also soured...

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