The Central Park Five holds a reflective mirror up to our present day, going back to another period of rampant race-baiting, racially motivated police misconduct and the point at which Donald Trump made his first foray into US politics. This book will make you question whether much has really changed in the past thirty years.
On April 20th, 1989, two passersby discovered the body of the "Central Park jogger" crumpled in a ravine. She'd been raped and severely beaten. Within days five black and Latino teenagers were apprehended, all five confessing to the crime.
The staggering torrent of media coverage that ensued, coupled with fierce public outcry, exposed the deep-seated race and class divisions in New York City at the time. The minors were tried and convicted as adults despite no evidence linking them to the victim.
Over a decade later, when DNA tests connected serial rapist Matias Reyes to the crime, the government, law enforcement, social institutions and media of New York were exposed as having undermined the individuals they were designed to protect.
Here, Sarah Burns recounts this historic case for the first time since the young men's convictions were overturned, telling, at last, the full story of one of New York's most legendary crimes.
The events surrounding the Central Park Five are soon to be dramatised in WHEN THEY SEE US - a Netflix series directed by Ava Duvernay.
Burns's gripping tale may serve as an allegory for some of the most pressing criminal justice issues of our time. - The New York Times Book Review
Riveting... An important book. - The Cleveland Plain Dealer
Gripping from start to finish, The Central Park Five is an unvarnished look at one of the most infamous crimes in New York City history. You may think you know the true story of the Central Park jogger, but you don't. Sarah Burns tells a harrowing story, in which her only allegiance is to the truth. - Kevin Baker, author of Dreamland
A riveting retrospective. - News Blaze
This is a controversial and important book, presenting a powerful argument... It demonstrates that our justice system is far from full proof even in the face of alleged confession, eyewitness and forensic evidence. - Alan M. Dershowitz, author of The Trials of Zion
Remarkable... thought-provoking reportage. - Booklist