The Hurricane Tapes (BBC World Service)
Thanks to Bob Dylan’s song and Denzel Washington’s film, the outlines of the story are well known: In 1966, Rubin “Hurricane” Carter, a black middleweight boxer, and his friend John Artis were arrested for a triple murder in Paterson, New Jersey. Convicted by an all-white jury, Carter served nearly 20 years of a triple life sentence before a federal court set him free; Artis had been paroled a few years earlier. But despite the notoriety of the case, no one has ever proven what really happened on that “hot New Jersey night,” and few people have seen or heard the real Rubin Carter. In this appealing and informative podcast, two British sports journalists set out to correct the record on both accounts. They draw from a treasure trove of tapes recorded by Carter (who passed away in 2014) and conduct interviews with nearly everyone involved in the case who’s still alive, including witnesses, lawyers, the son of lead investigator Vincent DeSimone, and, most compellingly, John Artis. The result is a satisfying cold-case investigation; a disturbing chronicle of racial injustice in America; and a complex, layered portrait of the “Hurricane” that goes far behind the sanitized version most listeners will be familiar with.