Wednesday, February 28, 2007

The Innocent Man by John Grisham

Title: The Innocent Man

Author: John Grisham

Genre: Non-Fiction

Summary: The judicial system failed four men who are incarcerated on death row.

The Take-Away: It is evident within pages as to who Grisham believes is guilty of the murder that sent Ron Williamson to prison and eventually death row. At times, I feared that the fixative for the type wasn't going to last the test of time because the sarcasm was so heavy. Surely, it would pull the text from the pages with its weight. It did not.

Many reviews challenge supporters of the death penalty, declaring that this book is a prime example of why it should be abolished. I disagree. I believe that the system truly failed the four men, and not just Ron Williamson. Perhaps it was Grisham's bias that made it obvious to me that Ron's mental state should have been reviewed. However, in an Amazon interview, Grisham states:

Exonerations seem to be happening weekly. And with each one of them, the question is asked--how can an innocent man be convicted and kept in prison for 20 years? My book is the story of only one man, but it is a good example of how things can go terribly wrong with our judicial system. I have no idea how the book will be received in the small town of Ada, Oklahoma, or any other town.

Instead of challenging the rightness or wrongness of the death penalty, challenge the system which placed them there. In the same interview, Grisham also stated:

Even as a former criminal defense attorney, I had never spent much time worrying about wrongful convictions. But, unfortunately, they happen all the time in this country, and with increasing frequency.

Some of the books should have been cut down. Ron's story of mental illness was played too many times. I felt like saying, "I got it already." But other angles, like his unsuccessful rehabilitation and forced drug abuse illustrated other areas that demand reform and assistance.

Recommendation: Read it, but be prepared for the sarcasm

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Seni said...

Perhaps his point is that, since the system is fallible, maybe it shouldn't be used to decide whether or not a human being should be put to death.

That sounds almost reasonable...

slpenney said...

It most likely was. But part of the author's responsibility in sending a message is to not get in the way of the message. His sarcasm did, for me.

The story was interesting, but I've read better non-fiction true crime stories.

Barbara's Journey Toward Justice said...

A Book Recommendation- A Companion book to The Innocent Man, Journey Toward Justice by Dennis Fritz. True Crime, Journey Toward Justice is a testimony to the Triumph of the human Spirit and is a Memoir. Dennis Fritz was wrongfully convicted of rape and murder after a swift trail. The only thing that saved him from the Death Penalty was a lone vote from a juror. Dennis Fritz was the other Innocent man mentioned in John Grisham's Book. which mainly is about Ronnie Williamson, Dennis Fritz's co-defendant. Both were exonerated after spending 12 years in prison. The real killer was one of the Prosecution's Key Witness. Read about why he went on a special diet of his while in prison, amazing and shocking. Dennis Fritz's Story of unwarranted prosecution and wrongful conviction needs to be heard. Look for his book in book stores or at , Journey Toward Justice by Dennis Fritz, Publisher Seven Locks Press 2006. ..
Read about how he wrote hundreds of letters and appellate briefs in his own defense and immersed himself in an intense study of law. He was a school teacher and a ordinary man whose wife was brutally murdered in 1975 by a deranged 17 year old neighbor. On May 8th 1987, Five years after Debbie Sue Carter's rape and murder he was home with his young daughter and put under arrest, handcuffed and on his way to jail on charges of rape and murder. After 10 years in prison he discovered The Innocence Project, a non-profit legal organization. With the aid of Barry Scheck and DNA evidence Dennis Fritz was exonerated on April 15,1999 Since then, it has been a long hard road filled with twist and turns and now on his Journey Toward Justice. He never blamed the Lord and solely relied on his faith in God to make it through. He waited for God's time and never gave up.

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