Smoke but No Fire

Convicting the Innocent of Crimes that Never Happened

Jessica S. Henry

University of California Press, August 2020

Rodricus Crawford was convicted and sentenced to die for the murder by suffocation of his beautiful baby boy. After years on death row, evidence confirmed what Crawford had claimed all along: he was innocent, and his son had died from an undiagnosed illness.  Crawford is not alone. A full one-third of all known exonerations stem from no-crime wrongful convictions.

The first book to explore this common but previously undocumented type of wrongful conviction, 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, former New York City public defender Jessica S. Henry sheds essential light on a deeply flawed criminal justice system that allows—even encourages—these convictions to regularly occur. Smoke but No Fire promises to be eye-opening reading for legal professionals, students, activists, and the general public alike as it grapples with the chilling reality that far too many innocent people spend real years behind bars for fictional crimes.

Available at the following retailers

Book Author Img

About the Author

Jessica S. Henry is an author, legal commentator, blogger and social justice advocate. After obtaining her J.D. from N.Y.U. School of Law, Henry served as a public defender in New York City for nearly a decade before joining the faculty at Montclair State University. She has written numerous articles for both academic and mainstream publications, and has appeared as a commentator on national and local television and radio.