Picking Cotton is the true story of Ronald Cotton, a black man accused of raping a white, college-aged woman in the 1980’s. The victim, Jennifer Thompson, picks Cotton out of a line-up and has no question in her mind that this was the man who broke into her apartment and raped her as she lay in bed. Eleven years after Cotton is sentenced to life in prison, new DNA evidence proves that, without a doubt, Cotton could not have been the man who committed the crime.
The book is jointly written by Cotton and Thompson, with the help of writer, Erin Torneo. In alternating chapters, we hear about both Thompson’s mental anguish and Cotton’s denial to freedom. The reader can easily sympathize with both “victims” and can’t help but feel that the system has failed them both. The positive side of the story is that after Cotton is released from prison, Thompson gets in touch with Cotton, and they both form an alliance towards changing the way in which suspects are identified. In fact, you may have seen the two of them on TV as they spread their message across the nation. (See the 60 minutes clip below).
The website for Picking Cotton has a lot of interesting information as well, including the actual case files, a book trailer, and an eye-witness test to see how well you do at identifying suspects (I failed miserably!) Ronald Cotton and Jennifer Thompson have a compelling story which everyone must hear!
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