Aug 8, 2008

The Innocent Man - Grisham (BC August 08)

This is John Grisham's first (and only?) non-fiction work. The theme is a detailed criticism of our American system of justice. The book describes the events that finally lead to the conviction of an innocent man.

It begins with the procedural mishandling of a gruesome murder case in a small town, and proceeds to build reader frustration by exposing the layers of corruption found at every turn. The unfairness illustrated is extremely disturbing and ultimately convinces the reader that the victim is innocent,
and the system is irretrievably broken .

The reader is informed that:
  • The rich are vastly favored in our judicial system.
  • Within States and between States, penalties are uneven at best.
  • Incarceration does not rehabilitate.
  • Prison facilities should be more uniform.
  • Prisoners should receive only the bare necessities.
  • Prison time must be hard time in order to be a deterrent.

Grisham's main point?

If a person believes that human beings are the most important of all forms of life, it is logical to conclude that no person nor society should take the life of another.

Grisham's second major point?

No system of justice can possibly be free from error because every system depends upon imperfect people to apply it.