“This System’s all a Lie”

Steven Hayne was the medical examiner at Willie Manning’s trial and at many others in Mississippi; he was unqualified and scandalously incompetent (see here and here). 

A book just published, “The Cadaver King and the Country Dentist: A True Story of Injustice in the American South”, recounts shocking miscarriages of justice facilitated by Hayne and his partner, forensic dentist Michael West, in the courts of Mississippi.

The authors, Radley Balko and Tucker Carrington, believe that a flawed system has allowed this abuse to occur. Carrington feels that the “structural racism and classism” in the US criminal justice system are compounded by poor resourcing; and Balko notes that there have been forensic scandals throughout the USA, which he attributes to “bad incentives and an inattentive, overfed system.”

But the authors also agree that the particularly shameful racism of Mississippi played a part in allowing Hayne and West to operate with impunity. As Balko says,
“[The criminal justice system in Mississippi] was designed during the Jim Crow era for a very specific purpose, which was to aid law enforcement in whatever law enforcement needed to do during the Civil Rights [Movement]. That meant covering up the killings of Civil Rights activists, before that [it was] covering up lynching. [The case is] about how that legacy still kind of remains with us today. I think it’s a system that serves people in power. You can’t talk about a system that serves [the] powerful at the extent of the powerless without talking about race.”

One reviewer concludes:
“The two authors… make the case beyond a reasonable doubt that the justice system in places like Mississippi has been rigged for decades.”

Willie Manning agrees. In his poem, “When Death Row Speaks”, he asks:

“How many times have I shed tears …
How many people have to die …
Before this nation starts to realize
That this system’s all a lie?”

We hope that this book will help to expose the lie.


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