Picking Cotton: Our Memoir of Injustice and Redemption

Jennifer Thompson-Cannino, Author, Ronald Cotton, Author, Erin Torneo, With with Erin Torneo. St. Martin's $27.95 (298p) ISBN 978-0-312-37653-6

In July 1984, Thompson-Cannino, a white college student in Burlington, N.C., was raped by a black intruder. She identified her assailant in a lineup as Cotton; he was sentenced to life plus 50 years. When he secured a new trial in 1987, he found himself charged with a second attack and sentenced to two life sentences plus 54 years. DNA evidence at a new trial, eight years later, exonerated him of both charges. Authors Thompson-Cannino and Cotton offer this riveting account of their separate, yet connected, lives through those years. The first two parts describe their dreadful experiences: for her, in the “[s]aliva swabs, vaginal swabs, pubic hair combings” of the rape kit; for him, being “sprayed like a dog getting defleaed” at the prison. Thompson-Cannino describes the invasive procedures following a rape, unsettling police procedures (the lineup), unfamiliar legal stages (such as a probable cause hearing) and the disturbing trial. Cotton leads readers through the events following a conviction (the several prisons, adjustments to the prison norm, the alternating hope and despair of the judicial stages). Redemption is the subject of the third part, where Thompson-Cannino and Cotton forge a path to genuine friendship in advocating for the wrongfully convicted. Together they have produced a well-modulated and generously balanced memoir—at once a devastating and uplifting crash course in the criminal justice system. (Mar.)

Reviewed on: 12/01/2008
Release date: 03/01/2009
Genre: Nonfiction
MP3 CD - 978-1-4001-6152-2
Compact Disc - 978-1-4001-4152-4
Paperback - 297 pages - 978-0-312-59953-9
Compact Disc - 978-1-4001-1152-7
Pre-Recorded Audio Player - 978-1-60847-879-8
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