Title: The Innocent Man
Author: John Grisham
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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