Sunday, December 16, 2007

"Death for a Dollar Ninety-Five" no longer on SSRN, but still available by request

I've had to take my paper The Case of 'Death for a Dollar Ninety-Five': Finding America in American Injustice off of SSRN's publicly available site for copyright reasons. It can go back up a year after it appears in a collection from a university press.

For those interested in the paper, I've converted it to a "private" SSRN paper. If you would like a copy, please e-mail my USC assistant Susan Davis at: sdavis "at"

For others in a similar position: in the past when I've had to take a paper off of SSRN, I've lost my accumulated downloads. By making a paper "private," and re-posting later, the downloads are subtracted from your overall download count while the paper is not on the public site, but they are preserved and should be added back in once the paper is public again. With a renewed focus on SSRN downloads for ranking faculty, it's unfortunate to temporarily lose credit for past downloads, but at least this way they're preserved until the time your paper can be re-posted.

Here's the paper abstract:

The Case of 'Death for a Dollar Ninety-Five': Finding America in American Injustice
This is a story about a case long forgotten. It was a case that needed to be forgotten, to safeguard the meaning of American justice. The case of Death for a Dollar Ninety-Five began one July night in Marion, Alabama, in 1957, and soon captured the attention of the world. It involved an African American man, a white woman, and the robbery of a small amount of change late in the evening. The conviction was swift and the penalty was death. International criticism soon rained down on the Alabama Governor and the American Secretary of State, leading to clemency and a life sentence. For $1.95. And the case was forgotten. This story helps us to see the way narratives of American justice and injustice are managed. The United States identifies itself with the rule of law, and so miscarriages of justice are often perceived as breaches in that identity, violations of the nation's own core principles. Resolutions of miscarriages of injustice, this paper will argue, are often about repairing a breach in American identity, making America whole again. What happens to the person at the center of the story is, at best, secondary. For the story to turn out right, the nation is restored, and the person is forgotten.