Good Kids, Bad City: A Story of Race and Wrongful Conviction in America

Good Kids, Bad City: A Story of Race and Wrongful Conviction in America

by Kyle Swenson


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From award-winning investigative journalist Kyle Swenson, Good Kids, Bad City is the true story of the longest wrongful imprisonment in the United States to end in exoneration, and a critical social and political history of Cleveland, the city that convicted them.

In the early 1970s, three African-American men—Wiley Bridgeman, Kwame Ajamu, and Rickey Jackson—were accused and convicted of the brutal robbery and murder of a man outside of a convenience store in Cleveland, Ohio. The prosecution’s case, which resulted in a combined 106 years in prison for the three men, rested on the more-than-questionable testimony of a pre-teen, Ed Vernon.

The actual murderer was never found. Almost four decades later, Vernon recanted his testimony, and Wiley, Kwame, and Rickey were released. But while their exoneration may have ended one of American history’s most disgraceful miscarriages of justice, the corruption and decay of the city responsible for their imprisonment remain on trial.

Interweaving the dramatic details of the case with Cleveland’s history—one that, to this day, is fraught with systemic discrimination and racial tension—Swenson reveals how this outrage occurred and why. Good Kids, Bad City is a work of astonishing empathy and insight: an immersive exploration of race in America, the struggling Midwest, and how lost lives can be recovered.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781250120236
Publisher: Picador
Publication date: 02/12/2019
Pages: 304
Sales rank: 178,953
Product dimensions: 6.30(w) x 8.70(h) x 1.30(d)

About the Author

KYLE SWENSON is a reporter for The Washington Post. A finalist for the Livingston Award for Young Journalists, he is also the recipient of the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi Award for feature reporting. His work has appeared in The Village Voice and The New Republic, and is featured frequently on Longreads, including "Good Kids, Bad City," the feature that became the basis for this book.

Table of Contents


Prologue: Busted Pavement

1. A Spark Plus a Spark Plus a Spark
2. That Particular Day
3. Black and Blue
4. X-Ray Eyes
5. We Yet Exist

6. Mens Rea
7. Alhamdulillah
8. The Males Are from the Neighborhood
9. What the Boy Saw

10. Super Flop
11. Hypertension
12. We Can Fix This
13. 39 Years, 3 Months, 6 Days
14. Not Your Town Anymore

Epilogue: Comeback


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