30 June 2007

The Innocent Man, by John Grisham

This is the only non-fiction work that I have read by John Grisham. I've read many of his novels and have always found them excellent. This book was up to the same standard.

This is the story of Ron Williamson, a man wrongfully convicted of murder and sentenced to death in Oklahoma in 1987. Williamson was finally freed from prison in 1999, but he was a broken man haunted by serious mental illness, who died at the age of 51.

Grisham tells this story with great feeling and depth, and includes many details of Williamson's life and family. In addition, he tells the stories of other men wrongfully convicted during the same period of time, some of whom are still incarcerated without hope of release. He exposes the sloppy police work and incredibly incompetent prosecutorial procedures that have made Oklahoma the model for injustice and violation of civil rights in the USA.

Grisham makes an excellent case to stop using the death penalty in this country. Our justice system is far too flawed to use this irreversible step, even if one has no other objection to it.

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