Convicted: A Crooked Cop, An Innocent Man, And An Unlikely Journey of Forgiveness and Friendship
Written by Jameel McGee and Andrew Collins. Published Sep. 19, 2017 by WaterBrook. Click on the photo above to purchase.
Convicted is a true story of redemption and forgiveness. It is told from the varying perspectives of Andrew Collins, a “crooked” cop, and Jameel McGee, the man he put in jail for a crime that he did not commit. It is an intensely emotional story, and an important one.
Officer Andrew Collins first recalls the downward spiral of fraud that he fell into after becoming a narcotics officer in Benton Harbor, Michigan. He framed suspects by placing drugs in their cars or pockets, and pocked money meant for nonexistent informants. Collins eventually takes full responsibility for his actions, but initially recounts an atmosphere of competition and disregard for rules in the office of those who were meant to uphold them. The extent to which Collins and fellow officers commit fraud is incredibly disheartening. I had little knowledge of police fraud before reading, and am now quite disappointed in the American police system. Though Collins eventually “finds god” and apologizes, to be honest, I had little sympathy for a man who selfishly ruined the lives of innocent people.
Jameel McGee’s narrative describes the realities of life growing up black in the apparently grim Benton Harbor. As a high school student, he aspires to study music in college but is sidetracked by a previous arrest. The lack of support and options offered to him displays a further disheartening view of American society. After his false conviction, Jameel recounts the dark anger, violence, and hopelessness that entrapped his mind in prison. Inspiringly, Jameel overcomes anger through religion and music.
This book attempted to display the ways in which McGee’s and Collin’s lives mirrored each other, ostensibly to prove that humans are more similar than we appear, and that we must uphold “the golden rule”. Both men are separated from their young children while in prison, though Jameel faces a much longer sentence. Furthermore, they both find forgiveness and redemption through God. Incredibly, their lives connect more than once when they coincidentally meet in a park, and later when they actually become co-workers. Now, they have overcome their pasts and continue to share their story together for audiences.
The writing style and detail is expectedly straightforward and unembellished, however this is not the type of book that one reads for the literary skill. This is a story so depressing yet incredible that it mirrors fiction. At times, I admittedly found the religious redemption slightly forced, and I did not feel the sympathy for Andrew Collins that the book seemed to lead me to. However, I thought that this was an incredibly interesting, emotional, and important story.
Thank you to Blogging for Books for an ARC of this book.