We found this story difficult to read, for good reason; we squirmed with sympathy for Elias Fishburne, a man who is swept into the criminal justice system in a case of mistaken identity. Jones masterfully builds tension and sorrow for her character. His story is a nightmare come true. But Jones doesn’t resort to cliche or overly emotional language. She elicits readers’ compassion and outrage by presenting well-reported detail in effective sequence: the stripping of Fishburne’s identity, his particular fears, the jaw-dropping missteps and indifference on the part of officials. Her account of Fishburne’s time in prison is the stuff of a Hollywood film: What happens when a strong, innocent man is forced to live among criminals?

This is in part a narrative about race; Jones builds her argument, again, by sequencing pertinent details.

Jones’ ending is elegant and writerly. This is a story to pass around.

Read “The Wrong Man,” by Tamara Jones

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