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Tuesday, June 25, 2013

REVIEW: Real Justice: Fourteen and Sentenced to Death, by Bill Swan

At fourteen, Steve Truscott was a typical teenager in rural Ontario in the fifties, mainly concerned about going fishing, playing football, and racing bikes with his friends. One summer evening, his twelve-year-old classmate, Lynne Harper, asked for a lift to the nearby highway on his bicycle and Steve agreed. Unfortunately, that made Steve the last person known to see Lynne alive.

His world collapsed around him when he was arrested and then convicted of killing Lynne Harper. The penalty at the time was death by hanging. Although the sentence was changed to life in prison, Steve suffered for years behind bars for a murder he didn't commit. When his case gained national attention, the Supreme Court of Canada reviewed the evidence -- and confirmed his conviction.

It took over forty years and a determination to prove his innocence for him to finally clear his name. He has since received an apology and compensation for his ordeal.

The Real Justice series is a really interesting one. All of them tell the story of a teen or young adult in Canada who were accused and convicted of murder. Some were false accusations, some were horrible miscarriages of justice.

Steve Truscott's story is particularly gut-wrenching for me. What was clearly circumstantial evidence, no confession, and gross mismanagement of a case by the police (who stopped looking when it came to light that Steve was the last to see Lynne alive) led to a fourteen year old be sentenced to death by hanging.

This book will appeal to reluctant readers, the "bad boys and girls," and the kids very into shows like CSI. This isn't a "true crime" novel, in that it's not about the crime committed itself, but the aftermath for the accused, and subsequently cleared, Steve Truscott.

Excellent read. Swan does a nice job of reminding us all that we really need to be aware of what our rights are, before they disappear on us.

I reviewed another in the Real Justice series earlier this year: Sentenced to Life at Seventeen.

What do you think??

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this ebook galley from James Lorimer & Company through the netGalley publisher/reader connection program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.

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