A love story...
a political education...
an artistic journey...
and an encounter with the most powerful life-and-death ordeals out there.
In 2000, Jessica Blank and Erik Jensen embarked on a journey across America--one that would give them a glimpse of the darker side of the United States' justice system and, at the same time, reveal to them just how resilient the human spirit can be. They were a pair of young actors from New York who had the idea to travel cross-country and interview the exonerated--men and women who had been sentenced to die for crimes they didn't commit, who spent anywhere from two to twenty-two years on death row, and who were freed amidst overwhelming evidence of their innocence--and create a play from their words.
The prospect was daunting: How would these total strangers react when asked to share the most difficult and painful part of their lives? But, taking a chance, Jessica and Erik loaded up their rental car, complete with their dog, Zooey, in the backseat, and waved good-bye to Manhattan. What lay ahead of them was beyond anything they ever imagined. From an all-night diner on the gritty edge of Chicago to a ramshackle trailer tucked away in the hills of Georgia, from a Florida prison to an Illinois vegetable farm, they discovered the darkest corners and brightest lights of America. They were chased out of neighborhoods and welcomed in the most surprising places; they heard stories of injustice that made them shudder and stories of hope that left them speechless. And, along the way, they fell in love.
The result of Jessica and Erik's adventure was the award-winning show The Exonerated, which has been embraced by such acting luminaries as Ossie Davis, Richard Dreyfuss, Danny Glover, Tim Robbins, Susan Sarandon, and Robin Williams. The Exonerated ran to sold-out houses in New York City and toured the country to audiences that included bishops, governors, senators, Supreme Court justices, and a former attorney general.
Part social commentary, part love story, this powerful memoir is the story of the creation of The Exonerated and one couple's adventure as they learn, through the stories of those who had lost so much, what freedom truly means.
"A wonderful book: an adventure of innocents abroad. This is a work of art about a work of art, a tale of courage and compassion that changed the face of criminal justice in America. There is more pure heart, pure love, and pure patriotism in these pages than the Daughters of the American Revolution and George W. Bush put together!"--Mike Farrell, actor, chair of "Death Penalty Focus"