Season three of Serial received quite a bit of buzz for getting back to its criminal justice roots when it released its third season last year. The team reported from a Cleveland courthouse week by week, following ordinary cases as they unfolded and telling the complicated story of what justice looks like in America.
I wanted to recommend another investigative podcast to those interested in the criminal justice system, true crime research, and quality investigative journalism. Season two of In the Dark tells the story of Curtis Flowers, a black man who has been tried six times for the same crime, maintaining his innocence and winning appeals but living on death row for 21 years. The white prosecutor, Doug Evans, has a troubling record of using preemptive strikes during jury selection to dismiss black jurors. And the prosecutor’s investigator’s methods are far from transparent. This one exceptional story about a remarkable crime reveals some startling mundane truths about the justice system and racial politics in the South. This is an important listen as we collectively grapple with criminal justice reform, accountability, and our contested visions of justice. Now is a good time to catch up and binge the series, as SCOTUS will hear arguments on part of Flowers’ case in upcoming months, in part because of evidence of racial bias uncovered by this investigative team.
The journalists on this project are top notch, relying on embedded, long term investigative reporting to dig into this case. After listening to a Q & A episode in which they thoughtfully articulated the important role of trust in the work that they do, as well as the role of skepticism in doing good reporting, I committed myself to listening to any report that they make in the future and went to their website to help fund their next season. On a related note, did you all see this ad from The Washington Post that aired during that recent mega sporting event? “Democracy dies in darkness.” Thank you for journalists like the ones from the Post and APM who carry the flashlights.