Picking Cotton - Jennifer Thompson & Ronald Cotton
From Jeffrey Sudduth on February 13th, 2017
Twenty-two-year-old college student Jennifer Thompson was raped at knifepoint by a man who broke into her apartment while she slept. Wearing only a blanket, she escaped and told police she was certain she could identify the man who had been inches from her face. She eventually picked Ronald Cotton out of a lineup. Ronald insisted she was mistaken – but Jennifer’s positive identification was the compelling evidence that put him behind bars.After serving 11 years in prison for a crime he never committed, Ronald was released when a DNA test proved his innocence. Two years later, Jennifer and Ronald met face to face – and forged an unlikely friendship that has changed both of their lives.By sharing their story, Jennifer and Ronald offer an unprecedented first-person glimpse into what happens when the criminal justice system fails both the victim and the accused. Their unforgettable story, told in their 2010 book Picking Cotton, challenges our ideas of memory and judgment while demonstrating the profound nature of human grace and the healing power of forgiveness.Jennifer Thompson and Ronald Cotton, now lifelong friends, speak nationally about the hazards of eyewitness misidentification and necessary reforms to prevent it. They bring to UIS Jennifer’s story of the horror of being raped and misidentifying an innocent person, and Ronald’s story of the horror of spending years in prison despite being innocent.Jennifer and Ronald address the question: What needs to change about eyewitness identification to prevent innocent individuals from being sent to prison?