Podcast of the Week: The Hurricane Tapes

‘A triple murder. 40 hours of tape recordings. Rubin ‘Hurricane’ Carter…’

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The story of Rubin ‘Hurricane’ Carter – the former pro boxer wrongly accused of murdering three people in cold blood at the Lafayette Bar & Grill – is a familiar one. Bob Dylan’s incendiary track Hurricane is not only one of his best, it is also one of his most famous. Throw in an acclaimed biopic of Carter starring Denzel Washington and you have one of the most publicised unlawful conviction cases in the history of the United States of America.

Despite all the attention, for most people, their perspective of this astonishing case comes almost exclusively from the aforementioned Bob Dylan song and the Denzel Washington film. The Hurricane Tapes utilizes a series of tapes recorded by Hurricane Carter, as well as extensive interviews with others involved in the case, primarily John Artis – who was also convicted of murder – and the judge who *SPOILER* eventually exonerated both Carter and Artis.

What is made clear by this BBC World Service podcast is that this was never a cut-and-dry case. By his own admission, Carter was no angel and in the interest of fairness, this is covered extensively by producers Steve Crossman and Joel Hammer, as are the seemingly never ending amount of discrepancies and mistruths that appear throughout the case for the prosecution during the trials of Carter and Artis.

The Hurricane Tapes avoids falling into the trap of sensationalism and conjecture so beloved of other true crime podcasts, even when Crossman and Hammer offer up an alternative murderer to Carter and Artis, it is through a prism of research and evidence rather than wild conspiracy theories.

With The Hurricane Tapes, the BBC World Service has produced something that is at once a tale of hope and a shocking expose into the institutional racism that is still a major issue throughout the police forces of America. If you have ever had even a passing interest in the case of Hurricane Carter, The Hurricane Tapes is essential listening.

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