“The justice system is a roulette wheel—race, politics, and money corrupt it,” says former Washington Post reporter Pete Earley. “It is in drastic need of repair.” In Circumstantial Evidence: Death, Life, and Justice in a Southern Town (Bantam), Arlington resident Earley investigates the wrongful conviction of a black man for the murder of a white teen-age girl in Monroeville, Ala. (coincidentally, the setting for Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird). On a busy Saturday morning in 1986, Ronda Morrison was murdered at the dry-cleaner’s where she worked; two years later, Walter McMillan, a man with no criminal record, was sent to death row. Earley’s interest in condemned prisoners took him to Monroeville to research the case, and learned that McMillan had been wrongly accused of the murder. New evidence unearthed by attorney Bryan Stevenson, who took up the case because he believed that McMillan was innocent, resulted in McMillan’s release after six years (Earley says that another suspect, a rich white male, will never be tried). Circumstantial Evidence shows how racism can skew argument and judgment in criminal proceedings. “After writing this book,” Earley says, “I would never back an execution.”