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Justice Studies

Professor Jessica Henry’s Book Picked as Silver Award Winner

“Smoke but No Fire” was named a silver award winner for best book in the INDIES Book of the Year Awards

Posted in: Faculty News

photo of Professor Jessica Henry standing in front of a green chalkboard. Her book cover overlays the left side of the image

Jessica Henry’s book, Smoke but No Fire: Convicting the Innocent of Crimes that Never Happened, was recently announced as a silver award winner in the 22nd annual Foreword Reviews INDIES Book of the Year Awards in the Political & Social Sciences category. The INDIES recognize the best books published in 2020 from small, indie, and university presses, as well as self-published authors.

Henry’s book, published in August 2020, is the first book to explore a shocking yet all-too-common type of wrongful conviction—one that locks away innocent people for crimes that never actually happened. Smoke but No Fire tells the heartbreaking stories of innocent people convicted of crimes that simply never happened. A suicide is mislabeled a homicide. An accidental fire is mislabeled an arson. Corrupt police plant drugs on an innocent suspect.  A false allegation of assault is invented to resolve a custody dispute. With this book, Henry, a former New York City public defender, sheds essential light on a deeply flawed criminal justice system that allows—even encourages—these convictions to regularly occur.

In May 2021, Henry’s book was also named a Montaigne Medal award winner as one of the year’s “most thought-provoking books.”