As you know, I am a John Grisham fan. However, I had not read his newest work, which is non-fiction, because I had heard it was not very good. Well, while I was in Houston, I noticed it on my son Josh's bookshelf. So I started reading it. I borrowed it from him so I could finish it.
It is entitled "The Innocent Man." Actually it tells the story of 4 men from Ada, Oklahoma -- all framed for two separate murders, and all sent to death row. Over the last few years, I have begun to reconsider my position on the death penalty, but this book really solidifies it for me.
I have lived pretty naively. I want to assume that our law enforcement people and our prosecutors are always honest. But this book graphically portrays anything but that. It shows men who were so eager to make a name for themselves in solving crimes that they pushed for indictments with no evidence, ignored evidence to the contrary, and played to the sympathies of a town scared by these unsolved murders.
While I would hope that such "law enforcement" is the rare exception and not the rule, it has made me realize that things like this do happen. I mean, four men in one fairly small town! And this is a true story! To think of people who are robbed of life while the guilty are still free makes me want to scream out for justice. And yet, we have heard so many criminals claim they are innocent that we have become calloused to such a cry.
What would you do if you were innocent and had been found guilty? What recourse would you have? I don't think I will ever be as hard-hearted toward such a claim as I have in the past. And while I have not changed my opinion about the death penalty necessarily from any theological standpoint, I just don't see that it serves as a deterrent to crime. Frankly, it seems somewhat barbaric. I'm not getting on a soapbox about it -- and can totally accept the arguments from both sides. I am just speaking for where I am today in my own skin.