Innocence Lost

What happens when the toughest criminal justice system in the world keeps locking up the wrong people—for life?
  1. The strangest thing happened to John Stoll this past spring. After 20 years in jail for an infamous crime he did not commit, a judge said it had all been a mistake, and he was set free. "You win some, you lose some," the prosecutor shrugged, refusing to offer any admission of error or hint of an apology for all that her office had put Stoll through. None of his family was in thecourtroom; they were all dead or far away and not terribly interested in what happened to him anymore. He was released from custody on his 61st birthday; after treating him to filet mignon and chocolate cake, his lawyers took him to buy socks and underwear, and then they took him to live with them in San Jose, because he had nowhere else to go and barely a penny to his name.

    John Stoll met only one other man in prison he is certain is innocent, though he is sure the California penal system is full of them—he just never asked. For one thing, the places where he was incarcerated—San Quentin, Avenal, Tehachapi, ...

The complete text of “Innocence Lost” is not in the Byliner library, but we love it so much we included an excerpt and a link to the full story on

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