By all accounts, Jovan Mosley was a good kid.
He was working his way out of a tough chicago neighborhood and had been accepted to Ohio State University when he was forced to confess to a murder he did not commit. He then spent five years and ten months in a jail without a trial. His efforts to exonerate himself got him nowhere until he happened to meet a successful criminal defense lawyer, Catharine O’Daniel. She became convinced of his innocence and took him on as her first pro bono client. along with Laura Caldwell, she decided to fight to free Jovan. In this affecting memoir, Caldwell tells the unforgettable store of a breakdown in the criminal justice system and what it took to free an innocent man.
Much of Long Way Home is set in a world most readers never explore – behind the bars of a jailhouse. How did this setting enhance the story?
Did certain parts of the book make you uncomfortable? If so, why did you feel that way? Did this lead to a new understanding or awareness of some aspect of your life you might not have thought about before?
What major emotion did the story evoke in you as a reader?
Did the book feel at times like a novel, a fictional piece of work? Did this enhance or take away from the reading process?
How has Long Way Home impacted your understanding of the legal system?
“This disturbing story of coerced confession and delayed justice is compassionately told, and Caldwell’s account of the trial is riveting.”
– New York Times Book Review
“In March 2000, Jovan Mosley was a 19-year-old with the dream but not the means to go to law school. When walking in his Southeast Side Chicago neighborhood one afternoon, he was arrested and shoved into a police car. After more than 24 hours of aggressive interrogation, much of which he endured with one arm chained to a wall, he agreed with detectives that he had thrown two punches in a fight he had witnessed months earlier. Then he agreed that he had taken a sip of soda offered by one of the attackers. Mosley, who had seen but not participated in that August 1999 robbery, in which a man named Howard Thomas was beaten to death, had just confessed to murder. So began his six-year imprisonment without trial in the SuperMax section of Cook County Jail. Caldwell, a law school lecturer and crime novelist, recounts Mosley’s years spent languishing in the holding facility and the court battle she waged on his behalf in partnership with the defense lawyer Catharine O’Daniel. This disturbing story of coerced confession and delayed justice is compassionately told, and Caldwell’s account of the trial is riveting”… “revealing in harrowing detail the inherent danger of being a black man in a vulnerable neighborhood, where to live risks being convicted for living”
–New York Times
“Caldwell’s personal and legal insight, along with her novelist’s flair, make her account of Mosley’s story, Long Way Home (Free Press, $26), a riveting read, exactly the kind of tale that seems destined for the big screen.”
–Time Out Chicago
“Lawyer/novelist triumphs…I have read hundreds of books and periodical features about wrongful arrests and wrongful convictions. Long Way Home is one of the best because Caldwell skillfully mixes the dramatic narrative of one case with pleasantly didactic passages about the inner workings of the criminal justice system; because she writes well (she is also a novelist), and because O’Daniel is such a fascinating heroine. Because of O’Daniel and Caldwell, Mosley’s wrongful arrest did not become a wrongful conviction — but just barely.”
“…a trifecta: part courtroom drama, part Eat, Pray, Love memoir, part social injustice expose. In it, she chronicles her efforts to free a Chicago man named Jovan Mosley, who awaited trial for six years for a 1999 murder he did not commit. But it’s also the story of a powerful friendship that carried the lawyer and her client through Caldwell’s subsequent divorce and Mosley’s ultimate release.”
– Chicago Magazine
“…a good kid from a bad neighborhood, 19-year-old Jovan Mosley, had never been in trouble with the police before Aug. 6, 1999, when he was falsely accused of and arrested for participating in a fight that turned deadly. Though Mosley adamantly declared his innocence, Chicago police handcuffed him in an interrogation room for more than 24 hours, bullying him until the exhausted Mosley signed a confession. Loyola law professor and mystery novelist Caldwell (Red, White & Dead) recounts Mosley’s six-year stint in Chicago’s toughest county jail, awaiting a trial on a charge of first-degree murder, and her own emotional journey co-chairing his defense. After five years–during which two inept public defenders both advised Mosley to accept a plea bargain–Mosley’s plight came to the attention of top-notch Chicago defense attorney Catharine O’Daniel. She took on the case pro bono, recruiting Caldwell, a former civil litigator, to help with the complex trial. Caldwell eloquently evokes Mosley’s struggles to have faith in a justice system that had so obviously failed him.”
“So you think you would never confess to a murder you did not commit, that no innocent person would? Long Way Home will make you think again. Laura Caldwell’s riveting tale about Jovan Mosley’s false confession to a crime he had nothing to do with reads like a thriller, but it’s absolutely and frightfully true. This book will rattle your foundations.”
–David R. Dow, University of Houston law professor and author of The Autobiographer of an Execution
“Caldwell, a lawyer turned novelist (The Rome Affair, 2006, and the Izzy McNeil Mystery series), assisted O’Daniel with Jovan’s defense, and now expertly chronicles his harrowing experience in this taut real-life thriller. From Jovan’s arrest through his interrogation, incarceration, and trial, she creates a gripping portrait of a man wrongly accused, who, despite his experiences within a flawed justice system, maintained his sense of dignity and hope.”
“An absolute page turner, full of vitality and bristling with savvy insights about the workings of the criminal justice system.”
–Scott Christianson, author of Innocent: Inside Wrongful Conviction Cases
“Demonstrating exceptional skill as both writer and lawyer, Caldwell delivers a stunning indictment of a very flawed system. Compelling and brilliant.”
–Roger Ellory, award-winning author of A Quiet Belief In Angels
Long Way Home…is an inspirational tale of friendship and success when all seems lost.
–Women of Mystery