The Confession by John Grisham was published in 2010. The Confession talks about a black high school student, a football star, who was wrongfully convicted on a death row. The story presents the myriad of controversial events that surrounded the case and the final verdict. The book is a legal thriller that serves a serious purpose of informing the audience about the death penalty system that was existent in Texas. Despite the fact that it is clear that the young man did not commit the crime, the jury, prosecutor, and the judge among other people involved colluded to sentence him to death. In the book, Grisham analyzes the concept of death penalty and addresses the public perceptions on the criminal justice system through a fictional perspective.
Donte Drumm is a black man from Texas accused of murdering Nicole Yarber, a white woman who disappeared from a parking lot of a mall. She was a cheerleader. After Nicole Yarber disappeared, Donte was arrested because the police suspected that he was behind her disappearance. In the interrogation of the case, the police manipulated Donte into admitting that he murdered Nicole (Grisham, 2010). This is the first instance where Grisham through fiction shows the audience how the criminal justice system in Texas was rotten. The public has the expectation that the police should not manipulate or coerce suspects to confess to crimes irrespective of whether they committed the crime or not. The police are supposed to carry out professional interrogation on suspects and perform thorough investigations to help them deliver justice to the society. In this case, however, the police failed to act professionally. They did not carry out thorough investigations into the case. Instead, they forced the suspect to confess to a crime he did not commit and went further to depend on the confession to convict the suspect. The detective who was responsible for questioning and interrogative Donte tricked him into confessing that he murdered Nicole. To make the situation worse, the judge allowed the detective to trick the suspect (Grisham, 2010).
Grisham brings in the public the perception of the criminal justice system by bringing in a pastor’s point of view. Grisham does not concentrate on the young man that has been convicted or the other people actively involved in the case. Instead, he unwittingly draws the viewpoint of the young pastor from Kansas into the story. In most cases, religious institutions present the viewpoints of the public with regard to many issues that affect them directly or indirectly. This is because religious institutions are always impartial and hold truth and justice as the most important values in the society. Therefore, the young pastor plays an essential role of showing the public perception of the rotten criminal justice system in Texas.
Despite the fact that Donte retracted his confession, the investigators held on to it ignoring the tireless efforts of Robert Flak, who was Donte’s lawyer, to defend Donte. The criminal justice system has decided to hold on to the execution of Donte in a few days time. One thing that seems amiss in the whole case is that the criminal justice system has decided to execute Donte, yet the victim’s body was never found. This means that neither the police nor the judge and his team can prove that Nicole was murdered. There is no substantive evidence that would incriminate Donte to execution. The whole case has been focused on the confession that Donte made and later retracted it (Grisham, 2010).
From the happenings in the story, the case seems to be a struggle between the white and black races. Donte is a black young man who has been accused of murdering a white young woman. The jury was formed by a team comprising of white people. Therefore, the jury delivered their verdict with a view of getting justice for a fellow white.
In any criminal justice system, the judge and other criminal justice system officials should exhibit professionalism and keep their personal issues out of the justice system. However, Grisham presents the reader with a criminal justice system where professionalism has been substituted with personal issues. The judge is involved in an extramarital affair with the prosecutor of the case involving Donte. Therefore, the relationship between the judge and the prosecutor influenced the case, because the judge could not disagree with the prosecutor for the sake of their affair. In addition, it is not understandable and does not make sense how a dog can be used as a key witness in a murder case irrespective of the fact that the dog was not trained on police work. The criminal justice system has used the victim’s boyfriend as a witness in the case in addition to a jailhouse snitch, which cannot be trusted. They provided a perjury testimony against Donte. Therefore, the testimonies of the witnesses of the case cannot be substantiated because they are controversial because of their personal attachments to the victim (Grisham, 2010).
The case has also been made controversial, because the appeals court did not care about the case. The judge responsible for the appeals court cared more about his tennis game than the case in court. This made him refuse to give a last minute petition because he wanted to go and play tennis. This was irresponsible of the judge as Donte suffered because of the carelessness of the judge.
All the ineffectiveness of the criminal justice system came to light when a paroled convict called Travis Boyette decided to confess his sins before he dies. He had a brain tumour that would ultimately kill him. Therefore, he decided to confess his sins so that Drumm did not die because of the crime that he did not commit. Boyette confessed to Keith Schroeder, a Lutheran pastor, that he killed Nicole. Boyette told Keith that he wanted to confess to the kidnap, rape, and killing of Nicole Yarber. He showed Keith the proof of his crime, and they agreed that if Keith agrees to drive him to the authorities, he will confess to the crime and take the police to the place where he buried Nicole. Drumm had only twenty-four hours before he was executed (Grisham, 2010).
The confession from Boyette has exposed the filth that exists in the criminal justice system starting from the police, the judge, the prosecutor, the appellate court judge, and the jurists. The pastor and Boyette have helped to bring out the perception of the public on the criminal justice system. If it were not for Boyette to confess to the crime, Drumm would have been executed because of the crime that he did not commit (Grisham, 2010).
In conclusion, the story shows that a rotten and irresponsible criminal justice system could lead to the death of innocent people. The participants of the criminal system that were handling Drumm were entangled in their personal affairs and had forgotten their duties. It took the responsibility of a pastor to wake them up and carry out their duties. In the novel, John Grisham has addressed death penalty and the perceptions of the public towards the weaknesses of the criminal justice. He has shown that death penalty can cause the death of innocent people when authorities are irresponsible and cannot do their duties in a professional manner. He also shows that the public has a role to play in the criminal justice system by ensuring that they reveal information that can help in cases.