Montclair’s Jessica Henry to Speak Nov. 14th on Innocent Defendants Wrongly Convicted

Montclair State University professor, author and former public defender Jessica Henry will discuss via Zoom the topic of her book, “Smoke but No Fire: Convicting the Innocent of Crimes that Never Happened,” at Bnai Keshet’s Kaplan Minyan Nov. 14th at 11:00am on Zoom at

Nearly one-third of all known exonerations involve people wrongly convicted of crimes that were later found to have never occurred in the first place, Henry says. “These no-crime wrongful convictions happen when the police plant evidence, eyewitnesses and informants lie outright, and forensic experts mislabel non-criminal events (suicide or accidental fire) as crimes (homicide or arson),” Henry says. “Hundreds, if not thousands, of people — often poor people and people of color — spend time in prison every day for fictional crimes.”

After obtaining her J.D. from N.Y.U. School of Law, Henry served as a public defender in the Bronx and Manhattan for nearly a decade. Her book, Smoke but No Fire: Convicting the Innocent of Crimes that Never Happened, came out this year, and her articles for both academic and mainstream publications are available online. She researches wrongful convictions, unjust sentences (including the death penalty and hate crime cases). She frequently appears as a commentator. In 2015, Henry received the Montclair State University Distinguished Teacher Award for her excellence in teaching. She lives in Montclair.

The Bnai Keshet Kaplan Minyans are named for Reconstructionist Judaism founder Mordecai Kaplan, who sought to create a Jewish framework for discussions of ethics, culture, history and current events. Please visit for the Zoom link and password to the session.

Reconstructing Judaism in Montclair, Bnai Keshet is an inclusive synagogue serving the Greater Essex area, is located at 99 So. Fullerton Ave., Montclair. For more information, visit

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