Crime, Cor­rup­tion, and In­jus­tice in the Cres­cent City

Foreword Reviews - - Foresight -

Dan Bright, Justin No­bel, Uni­ver­sity of New Or­leans Press Soft­cover $18.95 (272pp), 978-1-60801-124-7

The Story of Dan Bright works on mul­ti­ple lev­els. First and fore­most, it’s a cage-rat­tling ex­posé of the cor­rupt crim­i­nal jus­tice sys­tem of New Or­leans. It’s also an hon­est ac­count of crim­i­nal life within a ma­jor Amer­i­can city. In writ­ing the book, Bright teamed up with Justin No­bel, a prom­i­nent mag­a­zine jour­nal­ist. But as the ti­tle page makes clear, this is Bright’s story, and No­bel has only a pas­sive lis­ten­ing role as jour­nal­ist-recorder.

Bright grew up in the projects of New Or­leans. By his teen years, he’d be­come one of the most pow­er­ful drug deal­ers in the city, work­ing di­rectly with a Colom­bian drug lord in Florida. His crim­i­nal en­ter­prises are de­tailed in a terse, mat­ter-of-fact style, re­veal­ing an in­ner-city econ­omy in which drug deal­ers do more to rein­vest in the com­mu­nity than the gov­ern­ment does, tak­ing over the mu­nic­i­pal func­tions of an ab­sent state.

The cor­rup­tion and malfea­sance of that state be­come ap­par­ent in the sec­ond half of the story when Bright is framed for mur­der. He finds him­self pit­ted against crooked cops and pros­e­cu­tors hell-bent on send­ing him to death row for a crime he didn’t com­mit. The chap­ters set at Louisiana’s in­fa­mous An­gola prison are har­row­ing and dis­turb­ing and ex­pose the back­ward state of Amer­i­can pris­ons.

The Story of Dan Bright is a story of ex­on­er­a­tion hard-won against a Machi­avel­lian le­gal sys­tem. But it’s also the story of one man’s moral re­demp­tion as he looks back on the mis­takes he made—“i was part of a geno­cide ma­chine that was de­stroy­ing my own peo­ple”—and looks for­ward to a new way of life, with new­found aware­ness and ap­pre­ci­a­tion for those on both sides of the le­gal sys­tem fight­ing in­jus­tice ev­ery day.

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