Kyle Swenson

Cindy Seip

Kyle Swenson is an investigative reporter for The Washington Post. His work has appeared in The Village Voice, The New Republic, and Longreads. Swenson’s debut book, Good Kids, Bad City (Picador) is the true story of the longest wrongful imprisonment in the United States to end in exoneration, and a critical social and political history of Cleveland, the city that convicted them. In the early 1970s, three African-American men―Wiley Bridgeman, Kwame Ajamu, and Rickey Jackson―were accused and convicted of the brutal robbery and murder of a man outside of a convenience store in Cleveland, Ohio. The prosecution’s case, which resulted in a combined 106 years in prison for the three men, rested on the more-than-questionable testimony of a pre-teen, Ed Vernon. The actual murderer was never found. Almost four decades later, Vernon recanted his testimony, and Wiley, Kwame, and Rickey were released. “This story is about more than three lives unjustly stolen; it’s also about how a city can finally face down—and fix—its ugly past,” says Swenson. Interweaving the dramatic details of the case with Cleveland’s history, Swenson reveals how this outrage occurred and why. Good Kids, Bad City is an immersive exploration of race in America, the struggling Midwest, and how lost lives can be recovered. In a starred review Publishers Weekly praised Good Kids, Bad City as “[A] vivid, extensively researched debut…Cinematically written, this powerful tragedy of racial injustice and urban dysfunction will make readers question the idea that America can promise ‘justice for all.'”