The Guilty Innocent by Shannon Adamcik
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Shannon Adamcik - web presence specifically for promoting and discussing the book.
The United States is the only country in the world that will charge a juvenile as an adult and sentence them to life without parole. As the mother of one such child, I know exactly what happens when a juvenile is placed in adult court where they cannot defend themselves. They are immediately cut off from all human contact, locked in isolation, and railroaded through a justice system they simply cannot comprehend. Consequently, many of these juveniles are sentenced too much longer and harsher terms than their adult counterparts. I've personally lived through this, and I was compelled to write about it.
I began for the simple reason that I had lived through this horrendous ordeal and I ached for someone to confide in. But reliving the most painful part of my life was extraordinarily difficult. Ultimately the only reason that I was able to persevere was my deep belief that the story was important and needed to be told. That is still true.
This is a true story and no one can tell it better than the people who lived it. A crime reporter can look at the details of a case, but they cannot tell you how it feels to live through it. I can and I did. I used the pretrial and trial transcripts, copies of the police reports, the autopsy and DNA reports, and DVD recordings of all of the evidence in the case. I've done copious research. But more importantly, I take readers step-by-step through what it feels like when your 16-year-old son is accused of first-degree murder; all the odds are stacked against him; and his defense is in the hands of attorneys you can’t fully trust to come through for you.
Sixteen-year-old Cassie Jo Stoddard agreed to house sit for relatives on the weekend of September 22, 2006. It was something the teenager had done before…but this time something went terribly wrong. When the family returned home at the end of the weekend they found Cassie lying on their living room floor brutally stabbed to death.
Detectives focused on two of Cassie’s classmates who had briefly visited her on the night that she was murdered: Torey Adamcik and Brian Draper. Initially both boys denied any knowledge of the crime, but after two separate interrogations, Brian Draper told detectives a chilling story of murder straight out of a horror movie. The two boys were immediately arrested, and a shocking videotape was discovered that seemed to depict the two teens not only planning the cold-blooded murder, but celebrating it.
Community outrage was strong and immediate. The public demanded justice. But was the video actually what it appeared to be: a cold-blooded documentary that detailed the plotting of Cassie’s murder; or something else entirely? Could anyone uncover the truth in time and convince a jury that sometimes things aren't always what they appear to be?
The Guilty Innocent is narrated by Shannon Adamcik, mother of Torey, one of the accused boys. It takes readers behind the scenes of a trial where prosecutors cared more about public opinion than truth, defense attorneys, who had never argued a murder case, were in over their heads, and a young boy’s life hung in the balance.
I found this book to be very interesting and easy to read. I know there is controversy as many people are upset that the convicted killer's mother is writing her story and challenging the conviction from her point of view, but what else would one expect? I don't recall anything in the book that is insensitive or offensive to the family of the victim other than reliving the experience. And I do believe the book raises some important issues to consider when it comes to sentencing minors to life without parole. Overall, a good read and thought-provoking book.
This story really effected me, it was hard to put down. It is a thought provoking, emotional story. It sheds light on the legal system and how very powerless we are in certain situations.
By National Organization of Victims of Juvenile Lifers
This review is from: The Guilty Innocent (Kindle Edition)
Anytime we see parents making excuses for loved ones who commit murder, without first doing the HARD WORK of reaching out to victims families and really understanding the totality of the tragedy of this issue, we are just taken aback. What this killer's mother claims, first is WRONG - the USA is not the only nation in the world to use life sentences on 16 and 17 year olds who commit the highest degree culpabliity heinous murders. Proof and much more information at [...]. This parent should be reaching out to US if she wants to really talk about the policy issues surrounding the sentences of teens who kill. She has not contacted us. Our only thought is for the victims family of this horrible crime - how must THEY be feeling about the publication of this book?
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Showing 1-9 of 9 posts in this discussion
Initial post: May 28, 2013 2:38:33 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on May 28, 2013 2:54:50 PM PDT
Life in Shetland says:
This is a forum for people to review books. Your writing makes no mention of the facts raised in the book The Guilty Innocent, except for the opening line of the Amazon sales pitch. If I were to guess from your review you have not even read the book. You accuse the author of being lazy because she did not reach out to the victims family. Has your organisation reached out to the author and her family? You also accuse the author of making false statements in her pre-amble to the book. You state "What this killer's mother claims, first is WRONG - the USA is not the only nation in the world to use life sentences on 16 and 17 year olds". This is an attempt by you to use language to distort the debate. In your review you failed to mention `without parole' when you referred to `life sentences'. Article 37 Section A of the UN Convention on the Rights of Children states "Neither capital punishment nor life imprisonment without possibility of release shall be imposed for offences committed by person below 18 years of age". As of today 3 countries have not signed this convention. These countries are, Somalia, which does not have a functioning government, South Sudan the world's newest country still working to establish itself and the USA. One of the reasons the USA does not ratify this agreement is because of the punishment of life without parole. All western democracies (Canada, Europe, Australia, New Zealand and others) do not have the punishment of juvenile life without parole. It is interesting that the western countries without the sentence of life without parole for juveniles also have lower crime rates (per capita) and lower prison populations (per capita) than the USA. You also failed to mention that there are people serving life without parole in the USA for crimes committed aged 13, 14 and 15, much younger that your reference to 16 and 17 year olds.
I respect that your organization is the voice of many families who have been shattered by horrific senseless violence. This is an important voice and it must be heard. Please don't lower yourself to personal attacks and publishing half-truths as you have in your writing. If you have something to say about what Shannon Adamcik has written read the book, study the case and write a book or article pointing out what you consider to be her errors. List the evidence and sources you use to make your argument. Do this in a respectful researched way. Not on a book review forum. Trust readers to consider all sides and make an informed judgement. Don't attempt to silence the opposing side. There are numerous sides to every event and Adamcik wrote this book to tell her side. There is an opportunity for you to tell your side, but not in the careless way you have done so here.
In reply to an earlier post on May 28, 2013 4:17:52 PM PDT
National Organization of Victims of... says:
I have read the book online - would not purchase it. I am reviewing the book and raising some important issues. Why does the author insist that she is a victim from its first pages, while showing from the start no interest in compassion for the real and only victim in this case? Making excuses for her son? And YES our organization has reached out to her organization. We have asked for victim-sensitive behavior from them in their advocacy efforts - to no avail. And there are Life WITHOUT PAROLE sentences for under age 18 offenders in a dozen other counties, including Australia. While its not often entirely neatly matching to compare apples and oranges, several other nations are still executing juvenile offenders as well. The author of this book sets the wrong tone from the outset - a tone that is entirely telling about her agenda. I have nothing but compassion for her given her son's actions resulting in a life sentence. But if she wanted to help him she would help lead her advocacy community to an entirely different approach to the real victims of these crimes.
In reply to an earlier post on May 28, 2013 10:55:18 PM PDT
Life in Shetland says:
Again you are twisting known facts. Technically it is possible for a juvenile to get life without parole in Australia, but there are no known cases of that punishment being handed down. In fact according to a 2008 University of San Francisco study the only country that has people currently serving life without parole for a crime committed, as a juvenile is the USA. These finding were confirmed in follow up in 2012. If I am wrong about Australia please provide us with the name of the offender(s) currently serving this punishment in an Australian prison. If there is such an offender they have a strong case for appeal because Australia is a signatory on the UN convention on the Rights of the Child which bans the practice of juvenile life without parole.
I will grant you that there are several countries that have executed people for crimes committed when they were under the age of 18. According to Amnesty International the following countries have carried out this punishment since 1990: China, Democratic Republic of Congo, Iran, Nigeria, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, USA (since ruled unconstitutional) and Yemen. I am not an American but I do not imagine that the American population wants their legal system to be held in the same esteem as this list. All other countries on this list are not democracies. The countries on this list have a horrible record of human rights abuses. Your organization should be very careful using these countries to support your cause.
You stated that you would not buy the book so you read it online. The book, The Guilty Innocent, is sold online and retailers have provided access to the first few chapters to help readers made their decision. To read the full book a reader is required to purchase it. Amazon tells us that the book is 371 pages. To read the entire book you either had to buy it or you downloaded the book illegally. Have you read the entire book? If you did read the book how did you get access to it without paying?
In reply to an earlier post on May 29, 2013 8:19:06 PM PDT
National Organization of Victims of... says:
I read the chapters online and I am not twisting the facts. It is a flat out lie to say that the USA is the only nation in the world that sentences juveniles to natural life. The list of nations and studies verifying it are at our website www.teenkillers.org. Even Amnesty International and reports from CRIN of the United Nations confirm this. Provide names of offenders? Lets start by having you all in the USA who have been wrongly claiming that there are 2500 or so JLWOP offenders in the USA (there are only about 1300 - a number confirmed by both Amnesty International and a count of reported cases from state Attorney Generals) who we have repeatedly asked to stop lying about the numbers of cases and produce the names of the offenders. I am closing this conversation now by saying that it is sad that you would prefer to argue and attack rather than dialogue with a murder victims family member of loved ones killed by a JLWOP case. That is your whole movement's problem. You can reach us at www.jlwopvictims.org should you decide that the victims families of these crimes deserve a voice in this national public policy debate.
In reply to an earlier post on May 30, 2013 10:50:19 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on May 30, 2013 10:55:18 AM PDT
Life in Shetland says:
Thank you for revealing that you have based your review on a reading of the free sample of the book. According to my calculation that is 12% of the text. I believe it is important for people reading your review to know how little of the text you based your review on. I can say with confidence that I read 100% of the text before I wrote a word on this forum.
There are a number of people who have placed very negative reviews on this site claiming not to have read the text, or as you have done, read very little of it. As a reader I know that this book is from the perspective of Ms. Adamcik. I know that there are many different interpretations of this horrific crime. You obviously have serious concerns about the text, but you are unable to detail your concerns in an informed way because you have not read the book. I have therefore come to the conclusion that the main concern of those against this writing is not the actual text, but the fact that Ms. Adamcik dared to write this book in the first place. Ms. Adamcik's text expresses some very serious concerns about how the police, judge, prosecution and defense lawyers handled the investigation and the trial. Those who do not agree with this view need to take the time to read the book, document their concerns and provide an alternative explanation. I hope this can be done in a well-researched, respectful and thoughtful manner. Then they need to provide their work to the public and have faith that interested individuals will read both sides and attempt come to an informed decision about Ms. Adamcik's accusations. Ms. Adamcik has a right to say what she believes and even if you don't agree with her opinion I would hope that you would support her right to express it.
Thank you for posting a link to help me better understand your position on Juvenile Justice. I read with interest your organizations section on the international status of juvenile life without parole. In all my writing during this debate I have made it clear that from my research the USA is the only country that hands down the punishment of life without parole for those under the age of 18 . . . . without parole being key words. The website you suggested documents cases from Australia, Canada, the UK (including Scotland) and Saudi Arabia. Each documented case from Australia, Canada and the UK did result in life sentences, but each of the convicted were given a number of years before parole would be considered. None of these cases involved life without parole, which has been central to my argument. As presented on your website these cases are horrific examples of the damage people can do to others. Your website also documents a case from Saudi Arabia where there is a possibility of execution. I have no doubt that there is harsh sentencing in that country. I also have no doubt that Saudi Arabia and other similar countries (specifically countries listed in my last post, and others) are not living up to their obligations under the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. I am very concerned that any organization would highlight a country like Saudi Arabia, which has such horrific documented human rights concerns, as a model for criminal justice. Do you know of any individual in the EU (including Norway and Switzerland), Canada, Australia or New Zealand who is currently serving the sentence of life without parole for a crime they committed when they were under the age of 18?
There is no doubt in my mind that the families and victims of juvenile who are serving life without parole need a strong, clear and effective voice in this debate. The victims need their representatives to effectively articulate their concerns. This is what I have been asking for in the debate we have been having over Ms. Adamcik's book. Posting reviews based on reading 12% of a book and confusing the language between life with parole and life without parole to attempt to justify a position does not provide those who need it the most with an effective voice that can clearly articulate the debate. You have asked for dialogue . . . . Ms. Adamcik's book presents her side. Invest the time and money to research and write a rebuttal. Have that dialogue, but be open to other perspectives, views and experiences.
In reply to an earlier post on May 30, 2013 12:01:29 PM PDT
National Organization of Victims of... says:
We only needed to read her opening claim that she is a victim too to crystallize the problem. I have seen her in interviews too- nothing changes. We have done extensive research and written much- it's all on our website. Try reading all of that. You fail to mention that quite a few nations execute juveniles and many others have nothing comparable to parole- you cannot compare apples and oranges. And you should not support an offender family claiming to be the victims if you believe in compassionate inclusion of our voices.
In reply to an earlier post on Jun 1, 2013 11:33:32 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Jun 1, 2013 12:07:37 PM PDT
Life in Shetland says:
I find your comment "You fail to mention that quite a few nations execute juveniles" in your last post very telling. If you refer to my posts written on May 28 and May 30 you will see that I dedicate a rather large portion to the execution of juveniles around the world. I have listed the countries that since 1990 have executed people for crimes committed under the age of 18. I have discussed the well-documented judicial and human rights violations in those countries and have expressed concern that you consider holding these countries up as examples of justice systems worth considering. Your failure to recognize this aspect of my writing leaves me with one question; have you read my posts?
I spent a considerable amount of time reviewing your website yesterday. I will be honest and say that I have not had the time to read it all, but I will get through it. I am going to reserve forming a full opinion on the platform of your organization until I have fully read what has been written. What I can say is that I have spent a good amount of time thinking and processing the information there. There have been some points you have raised that I agree with and some that I don't but I will need to complete my reading before I have a full grasp.
When you initially reviewed this book you chose to do it under the name of your organization. I think this is why I have been so active in my response to your initial post. If you were posting as an individual I would be a lot more forgiving for what I consider to be a very irresponsible approach. You have commented on a book you admitted to not reading and I am beginning to believe you are not reading my posts. I have also demonstrated you have used misleading language which confuses the issues that have been raised. Your organization advocates for the rights of victims. This is a serious and essential role that must be done to the highest quality by very competent individuals. I presume that you meet with politicians, media and experts to discuss the issues surrounding juvenile justice. I recognize that you have a position on these issues and I believe it is essential that your views be central in this debate. The problem I have is your behaviour on this forum. In this forum you are ignoring and dismissing texts and opinions without reading them. When you hold yourselves up as experts, as your organization does, you need to have a full understanding of the debate and what the opposition is saying and writing. In this forum you can't do that because you did not read the book (and as mentioned above I don't think you are reading my posts!). Your organization has placed a lot of information online. You have done that to educate the public on your views. When I expressed concerns one of your suggestions for me was to go to your website and read about your views. You rightly believe that I can't have a fully educated understanding of what your organization does until I spend the time to read what you have written. Why do you not have the same consideration for those with different or opposing opinions? Why can you publically denounce a book without reading it? I am challenging you because in my opinion you are not living up to the responsibly that any organization, which lobbies governments, must. It is reckless, irresponsible and undemocratic to ignore and dismiss different or opposing views. At this point I am going to give your organization the benefit of the doubt and believe that your actions in this forum do not represent the quality of work done elsewhere. I certainly hope this is true because the people you represent deserve the most organized, articulate, researched and reasoned voice possible.
For the third time I will ask you the following question: Do you know of any individual in the EU (including Norway and Switzerland), Canada, Australia or New Zealand who is currently serving the sentence of life without parole for a crime they committed when they were under the age of 18? Your failure to give a clear concise answer to this point indicates that no such individual exists. Please correct me if I am wrong.
In reply to an earlier post on Jun 1, 2013 11:16:09 PM PDT
National Organization of Victims of... says:
We do not have any funding or staff to research cases. Contact the www.endjlwop.org folks - they have TONS of funding - none of which is going to help any murder victims families cope with their tragic losses at the hands of their clients.
In reply to an earlier post on Jun 2, 2013 3:42:06 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Jun 2, 2013 5:31:31 AM PDT
Life in Shetland says:
Thank you for finally answering my question.
To summarize our discussion to date:
1. You have posted a very negative review about a book. When challenged you claimed that you read the book (May 28), when further challenged you admitted that you only read 12% of the book (May 29).
2. You claimed that there were other countries where there were juvenile's serving life without parole. When challenged you mentioned Australia. When further challenged you mentioned executions. When directly asked if there were any known cased in EU (including Norway and Switzerland), Canada, New Zealand and Australia you were unable to respond and directed me to the website of a group that opposes your organizations views.
3. There is a strong possibility that you failed to read the content of my posts (as I detailed on June 1).
Your review of this book and your conduct on this forum needs to be viewed with the above-mentioned facts in mind. In my opinion you owe the people who have looked on this site an apology for the careless way you have acted.
I am not certain if there is anyone reading this debate, but I feel at this time that it is important for me to explain why I have been so persistent with this poster. I am not American and I have never met Ms. Adamcik or the person posting in this forum. I purchased this book and read it while travelling in Germany. I was very interested in the narrative as presented by Ms. Adamcik, but I knew there were other sides to this story. One of the reasons I came here is to learn more about those other side. I have been disappointed. There have been a large number of people posting very negative things about the book and Ms. Adamcik personally, but to my surprise most have admitted to not reading the book. Some even hold their ignorance of the text up as a badge of honour.
When I read this post I knew it was different. Instead of it being posted by a private individual it was posted in the name of an organization, which claims to have a national following. In my opinion there is a higher demand for accuracy, truth and coherent discourse from a groups when they claim expert status. From the very first post it was evident that something was not right in what this organization was saying. Through this online debate it has been revealed that the person writing on behalf of the organization did not read the book, made claims that they could not substantiate with fact and did not read the content of many of the posts in the debate.
This organization claims to have a voice in the national debate. I think we all can agree that groups supporting victims of crimes must have a voice that is central in that debate. For that voice to be effective it must be clear, honest, consistent, articulate and rational. Based on the writings on this site none of these criteria have been met when looking at their conduct here.
Through my postings on this site I hope I have exposed a false review on this book. I also hope I have placed some pressure on this organization to take their responsibility seriously and ensure honesty, dignity, tolerance and respect in all of their actions. We must demand this of anyone claiming expert status.
When you review a book you enter into a debate about the content of the book. Debates can be messy, complex and heated. Nowhere is this truer than in the topic we are dealing with in this forum. We are dealing with victim rights, which must be respected. We are dealing with horrific crimes, which must be investigated and punished. We are dealing with different perspectives and we are making judgments about people, motives and truthfulness. We have a victim's family who must be respected and a writer/mother who has risked a lot to tell her version of events. When a group comes along using their name, their credentials, and states their view on the debate we look at it differently. We hold their view up because they are the experts. Just by posting organizations can legitimize some opinions and place other opinions in serious doubt. So what happens if the experts are not being honest? How can this be addressed? Are their any consequences? I don't have the answers to these questions, but I believe they are important and we need to reflect on their answers.
To close, I want to repeat what I said yesterday. I am going to give this organization the benefit of the doubt and believe that their conduct on this forum is not representative of their day-to-day work. I need to hope that this is true because the people they represent need and deserve strong, clear, reasoned, consistent, honest and articulate spokespeople.
American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP)
The American Correctional Association (ACA)
American Humane (AH)
The American Jail Association (AJA)
American Medical Association
American Probation and Parole Association
American Public Health Association (APHA)
The American Psychiatric Association (APA)
The Association of Black Psychologists
The Association of State Correctional Administrators (ASCA)
The Coalition for Juvenile Justice (CJJ)
The Council of Juvenile Correctional Administrators (CJCA)
International Community Corrections Association (ICCA)
Mental Health America
National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP)
The National Association of Counties (NACo)
National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (NACDL)
National Association of Social Workers (NASW)
The National Commission on Correctional Healthcare (NCCHC)
National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges (NCJFCJ)
The National Juvenile Detention Association (NJDA)
The Parent-Teacher Association (PTA)
Society for Adolescent Medicine
United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB)
U.S. Conference of Mayors (USCM)
American Academy for Child and Adolescent Psychiatry (AACAP)
American Bar Association (ABA)
National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges (NCJFCJ)
National District Attorneys Association (NDAA)
*A third edition exists, but is not publicly available
National Juvenile Defender Center (NJDC)
National Prison Rape Elimination Commission (NPREC)
Equal Justice Initiative - www.eji.org
The Pendulum Foundation: www.pendulumfoundation.com
The Supreme Court Blog - www.scotusblog.com
The White House, President of the United States -www.whitehouse.gov