Wrongfully Convicted; Wrongfully Imprisoned – Tested (a special book, and session, this week in Dallas)
I have just finished reading each and every word of the book Tested: How Twelve Wrongly Imprisoned Men Held Onto Hope by Peyton Budd in collaboration with Dorothy Budd — Photographs by Deborah Luster. (Published by Brown Books Publishing Group in Dallas). I say it this way to make a point – though I thoroughly read the books that I present, at times I have to move through the text pretty fast. This one was one to read slowly – and I did.
It chronicles the stories of some men who sat in prison, some for decades, while innocent of the crimes they were sent to prison for. They were wrongfully accused, wrongfully convicted, wrongfully imprisoned. There is now no doubt of the wrongfulness of their convictions. They have been exonerated. The courts admit the wrongful convictions. They are now free.
But, of course, they will never be free. As exoneree Eugene Hinton put it: “There are no psychiatrists who’ve done twenty years in prison for a crime they did not commit, so they really couldn’t offer me a solution.”
The book is written by mother and daughter writing team Peyton Budd and Dorothy Budd. Here’s Peyton’s observation:
These men changed me.
I am a different person now, a better person, for having the chance to know them and tell their stories. Every moment I spent with them altered my view of the world and demonstrated the resilience of the human spirit. They also taught me that our judicial system is broken and must be fixed.
And then, this sad note:
Countless, unimaginable numbers of innocent people still sit in prison and will never be freed.
This must stop.
I frequently share insight on this blog from books I have read. Occasionally, I strongly suggest that you read the book yourself. I do so with this book. It will make you sad, yet hopeful, all at the same time. It will do your heart good. It did mine.
I will present my synopsis of this book at noon Thursday (August 25, 2011) at CitySquare in downtown Dallas. Dorothy Budd (one of the authors), and some of the exonerees, will be present. Come join us. Click here for details.
The book speaks highly of the Innocence Project.
“Hope” is in the subtitle (“Held onto Hope”) — and the hope in the book is twofold: while in prison, some never gave up hope that they would be exonerated; and, some discovered hope by finding or rediscovering faith while in prison. But, you are right — it is as much hope “draining” as it is hope “finding.”
Though I came away from the book with plenty of despair about how many are wrongfully convicted (those in Dallas would not have been exonerated had Henry Wade not saved DNA evidence through the years — other counties did not/do not make such choices), the book makes a strong case that prosecutors must rely on actual physical evidence. Eyewitness testimony is simply, far too often, unreliable. I thought of the book Picking Cotton as I read this book, which tells the story of a woman who became friends with the man she wrongfully “picked” as the one who raped here– his last name is Cotton.