Author's Note—THEY CAN'T TAKE YOUR NAME
If you listened to audio version of THEY CAN'T TAKE YOUR NAME then you missed my Author's Note included in the hardcover and eBook versions.
Thought I'd make it availabe here so you might also read about...
- Why I wrote the book
- The true to life elements included in the book
- Writing Wrongful Convictions
- Read a Book, Right a Wrong
- Langston Hughes, Ralph Ellison, and All That Jazz
- Acknowledgments and Thank-Yous
(Note: this Author's Note contains spoilers!)
Writing Denver—A Beautiful Place to Live but...
My Wrongful Conviction novels are set in my city, the Mile High City.
While Denver doesn't carry the mystic of places such as Los Angeles, New York or Chicago, it's a beautiful place to live and is the only place that I've called home.
Here are five Denver locals that appear in my novels.
How many innocent people are in prison? It's worse than we thought.
Counting the Innocent
Nobody knows for sure how many innocent people are in our prisons and jails; however, in the Author's Note to my novel THEY CAN'T TAKE YOUR NAME I say, "estimates are that 1-2 percent of all convictions are of innocent people."
It can be comforting to think that our criminal justice system incarcerates the correct person 98-99 percent of the time. However, this is not good news if you are among the 1-2 percent nor should any of us take solace in the low percentage for in actuality it points to a grim truth: there are thousands of innocent people doing time for crimes they did not commit.
But how do we know? How reliable are these numbers? Where do these statistic come from?
While we can't know for sure how many innocent people are in prison we can make an educated guess.
Massive Corruption Leading to Mass Wrongful Convictions
Unfortunately this kind of corruption is all too real and recent.
Here are three examples:
7 Authors Who Write Wrongful Convictions
As I write, almost 2,500 wrongfully convicted men and women have been exonerated, totaling more than 21,000 years lost. Conservative estimates are that only one to two percent of all convictions are of innocent people. That’s an impressive success rate, and it’s comforting to think that our criminal justice system incarcerates the correct person 98–99 percent of the time. However, this is not good news if you are among the one to two percent. Think about what that means in actual numbers. There are approximately two and a half million people incarcerated in the United States, which means there are thousands of innocent people doing time for crimes they did not commit.
What can we do?
I’d like to suggest that an easy first step is to read more authors who write about wrongful convictions. These writers shine a spotlight on the innocent behind bars and allow us to see the root causes beneath the epidemic.
Not only do those who write about wrongful convictions educate us, they also provide a fun twist on the classic crime novel. Mystery novels usually focus on the question, “Who did it?” However, when a plot centers on an innocent person, the question flips from “Who did it?” to “Who didn’t do it?”, making for a meaningful and refreshing read.
Here’s a list of my favorite authors who write wrongful convictions into their fiction:
Click to continue reading at CrimeReads.com
Crime Writers of Color Podcast
Read a Book ~ Right a Wrong
The Wrong: Too Many Wrongful Convictions
Too many people are doing time for crimes they did not commit.
Wrongful convictions are all too real in our justice system. As I write, almost 3,000 men and women have been exonerated, totaling more than 30,000 years lost. Conservative estimates are that only 1-2% of all convictions are of innocent people. That’s an impressive success rate, and it can be comforting to think that our criminal justice system incarcerates the correct person 98-99% of the time. However, this is not good news if you are among the 1-2%. Think about what that means in actual numbers. There are approximately 2.5 million people incarcerated in the US. Conservatively, then, there are thousands of innocent people doing time for crimes they did not commit.
Let’s do something about it...
Langston Hughes, Ralph Ellison and All That Jazz
THEY CAN'T TAKE YOUR NAME is heavily influenced by poetry of Langston Hughes, the prose Ralph Ellison and essence of jazz.
Jazz is more than music, it’s a way of seeing and interacting with the history of America. This is why I love the work of Langston Hughes and Ralph Ellison. When Hughes wrote his poem, Harlem: A Dream Deferred, he was doing jazz. He was not the first of the jazz poets, but he is definitely the most notable. These poets began by including references to music and musicians in their prose. Then they quickly embarked on applying what they saw the musicians doing on the stage and translated it into their verse. Making use of the elements of jazz, they gave birth to a new way of doing poetry—poetry in jazz. Read Langston Hughes and you find syncopation, improvisation and call-and-response especially as he interacts with the great American novelist, Ralph Ellison.
When Can You Call Yourself a Writer?
Even though I’d written and published four books, I refused to call myself a writer. For me, there had always been a mystique surrounding the word and I couldn’t summon the courage to own it for myself.
After all, I didn’t do well in creative writing class and still, to this day, have an rudimentary understanding of punctuation and grammar. When my participles dangle I haven’t a clue.
My Top Five Writing Tools
My top tools writing tools (outside of my Mac, which goes without saying).
5–Noise canceling headphones: Depends on my mood but I prefer my Beats for their bass, my Bose for their exceptional noise canceling and my AirPods Pro for their portability.
4–Remarkable 2: Feel of paper without paper. I use this for everything--journaling, mind-mapping, sketching and more!