Picking Cotton: Book summary and reviews of Picking Cotton by Jennifer Thompson-Cannino, Ronald Cotton, Erin Torneo

Picking Cotton

Our Memoir of Injustice and Redemption

By Jennifer Thompson-Cannino, Ronald Cotton, Erin Torneo

Picking Cotton
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  • Published in USA  Mar 2009,
    304 pages.

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Book Summary

Jennifer Thompson was raped at knifepoint by a man who broke into her apartment while she slept. She was able to escape, and eventually positively identified Ronald Cotton as her attacker. Ronald insisted that she was mistaken - but Jennifer's positive identification was the compelling evidence that put him behind bars. After eleven years, Ronald was allowed to take a DNA test that proved his innocence. He was released, after serving more than a decade in prison for a crime he never committed. Two years later, Jennifer and Ronald met face to face - and forged an unlikely friendship that changed both of their lives.

In their own words, Jennifer and Ronald unfold the harrowing details of their tragedy, and challenge our ideas of memory and judgment while demonstrating the profound nature of human grace and the healing power of forgiveness.

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Media Reviews

"Together they have produced a well-modulated and generously balanced memoir - at once a devastating and uplifting crash course in the criminal justice system." - Publishers Weekly.

"Injustice and redemption are overused words, but this heartfelt joint memoir justifies its subtitle." - Kirkus Reviews.

"What happened in this book will change what you think of the criminal justice system in this country, and challenge you to help fix it. Each of them tells an extraordinary story about crime, punishment and exoneration, but it's their shared spiritual journey toward reconciliation and forgiveness that is even more compelling and profound." - Barry C. Scheck, Co-Founder and Co-Director of The Innocence Project.

"Few people have done more to put a human face on issues involving wrongful convictions than Jennifer Thompson-Cannino and Ronald Cotton. Yet through their shared pain, they have been able to forge a friendship that most of us search our lives for." - Janet Reno, Former U.S. Attorney General.

"[A] remarkable testament...powerful...A MUST read." - Studs Terkel.

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Rated 5 of 5 of 5 by Tenille Dumas
Forgiveness can unlock your new life.
This book really shows a significant picture of what forgiveness looks like, it's not prejudice at all.

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Jennifer Thompson-Cannino lives in North Carolina with her family. She speaks frequently about the need for judicial reform, and is a member of the North Carolina Actual Innocence Commission, the advisory committee for Active Voices, and the Constitution Project. Her op-eds have appeared in the New York Times, the Durham-Herald Sun, and the Tallahassee Democrat.

Ronald Cotton lives with his wife and daughter in North Carolina. He has spoken at various schools and conferences including Washington and Lee University, University of Nevada Las Vegas, Georgetown Law School, and the Community March for Justice for Troy Anthony Davis in Savannah, GA. Erin Torneo is a Los Angeles-based writer. She was a 2007 New York Foundation for the Arts Nonfiction Fellow.

The authors received the 2008 Soros Justice Media Fellowship for Picking Cotton.

Interesting Link: Jennifer Thompson-Cannino speaks on video.

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