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Literary: Jennifer Thompson

By Jason Gargano · June 7th, 2011 · CityBeat Recommends

Jennifer Thompson helped send Ronald Cotton to prison for a crime he didn't commit. And it wasn't just any crime — Thompson, then a 22-year-old college student, testified that Cotton had entered her dorm room as she slept and brutally raped her. After 11 years in prison, Cotton was released when DNA evidence proved his innocence. Stunningly, Cotton forgave Thompson, who in turn lobbied state legislators to change compensation laws for the wrongly convicted.

She has also become an outspoken opponent of the death penalty, among other issues pertaining to the judicial system. Most curious of all was Cotton and Thompson's collaboration on a moving memoir called Picking Cotton, in which the two to tell their harrowing stories of victimization. Thompson will discuss her experiences as the featured speaker at the Mercantile Library's Harriet Beecher Stowe Lecture at 7 p.m. Tuesday. The annual lecture's theme is "writing to change the world," an act Thompson has no doubt engaged via her collaboration with Cotton and her continuing search for justice. $20 for library members, $25 for everyone else. The Mercantile is located at 414 Walnut St. Downtown.

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