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Juror Number 2: The Story of a Murder, the Agony of a Neighborhood

"In the early morning hours of June 7, 2007, five young men, all gang members, all involved in peddling crack cocaine, were playing dice in the courtyard of East River Houses, a New York City Housing Authority project in East Harlem. Three of the players were members of the Bloods gang; two were Crips. At a little past 4:30 a.m., a lone shooter, a Blood, entered the courtyard and began firing at the dice players. Within minutes, two young men were dead, one, a fellow Blood, killed by accident; the other, a Crip, assassinated at point-blank range."

"It took ten and a half years, but in December 2017, a man went on trial in Manhattan for this double murder. I was juror number 2 in that trial."

Beyond the drama of a murder trial, Juror Number 2: The Story of a Murder, the Agony of a Neighborhood takes you inside families, schools, the NYPD, gangs and crime in one of the city's poorest neighborhoods−to highlight what's working amidst so much that isn't.


What they say about Juror Number 2

"For a juror in a real-life murder case, the guilty verdict is only the beginning of his post-trial examination into the many institutional failures he feels led to the tragedy.  Sigel writes with compassion.   If this were a real-life Twelve Angry Men, he'd be cast in the Henry Fonda role.   The trial takes up the first half of the compact, engrossing work. The second half of the timely book is devoted to Sigel's 'search for why.' He skillfully puts a human face on the denizens of run-down housing projects, overwhelmed schools, and the police. There is hope in the vivid success stories of nonprofit organizations trying to break the cycle of recidivism. An absorbing account that will especially speak to advocates of social and criminal justice reform."-Kirkus Reviews, July 2020

"Truly compelling, impossible to put down. A powerful, powerful piece of writing."

-novelist Max Byrd


"Engrossing, engaging and so well written. Such a gift to show the humanity of the men who were caught up in this."

-Wendy Kopp, founder, Teach for America


"Riveting. Far more than a courtroom drama; it challenges all of us to ask hard questions about our individual roles in promoting changes that can save and improve lives." 

-Joseph Johnson, Provost, San Diego State University; founder, National Center for Urban School Transformation


"Compelling and insightful  Juror Number 2 mesmerizes as it explores the intimate relationship between education and violent crime in New York's housing projects.  Not to be missed." 

-John Lescroat. bestselling author, author of The 13th Juror

"Powerful and exceptionally well written. Sigel's stark memoir brings us face to face with the young men in East Harlem who turn to gangs and crime─their fractured families, their economic deprivation, their lack of access to quality education. Yet his visits to housing projects, the NYPD and the schools show that success, if rare, is possible. Juror Number 2 is a call to action."

-Patty Machir, executive director, Futures and Options

And reader reviews:

"I'm not prone to superlatives, but "Juror Number 2" is FANTASTIC! I read it in one day simply because I couldn't put it down.  It's written like a detective story of the best kind and I find your genuine care and diligent research compelling and inspiring. Thank you for writing this book."  

-Ofra Bloch, clinical social worker/therapist; director of the indie film, "Afterward."

"Juror Number 2 is remarkable.  I tried not to read it late at night as I couldn't put it down. The description of the neighborhood, relationships, depressing life experiences of these boys/men is truly compelling. Should be required reading for our public officials.  Really a great read—congratulations!"                           -Judith Kunreuther, Attorney    

"Your writing so effectively captured the immersion and emotion of being on a big trial.  Thanks for creating such vivid pictures.  I loved the scenes of you in the housing projects.  Your tour of the neighborhood schools was so informative.  And your interactions with the cops and lawyers put such a light on their work. A perfect fit for this moment of uprising about the inequality in this country." -Leo Corbett, co-chair, Social Enterprise, Harvard Business School Club of NY

 "Finally started reading 'Juror Number 2' this afternoon. And finished reading 'Juror Number 2' this afternoon, couldn't put it down. 'Riveting' is the appropriate adjective. And I was in awe of the investigative reporting you did after the trial, especially Chapter 11 on the schools. Thanks for the pleasure."

-Phil Pechukas, retired chemistry professor, Columbia University

"Bravo.  Just finished your excellent book.  The story of the trial was fascinating.  Your sympathetic exploration of what was behind these sad and destructive lives was touching.  I particularly liked your discussion of the different educational systems in East Harlem—those providing students with real opportunities and those providing none.    What an undertaking! What a masterful job!"   
                                               -Irene B, retired professor

"Efrem Sigel has written a compelling book, fascinating to read, with a compassionate, realistic and optimistic assessment of what could be done if we had the will to uplevel our society. If you are interested, you can get a copy at https://lnkd.in/dEYbP4h."-Evan Harrel, chief operating officer, Center for Compassionate Leadership

"Juror Number 2 is two books in one, nicely woven together magnifying the impact of each. First it is a fast moving drama as Sigel relates the intrigue of a murder trial. The lucky reader is then swept into the organizations and personalities that succeed and fail as they attempt to save at least some of the youth drawn, pushed, pulled into the world of drugs. The book is at first exciting; then informative, thought provoking, and sobering." Ralph Lawrence