I received this book for free from Read for Review in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

This book may be unsuitable for people under 14 years of age due to its use of language, mental illness, sexual content, drug and alcohol use, and/or violence.
{Convicted for Being Mi’kmaq: Bill Swan}Convicted for Being Mi'kmaq: The Story of Donald Marshall Jr. by Bill Swan
Series: Lorimer Real Justice
Published by James Lorimer on September 1, 2013
Genres: Historical Non-Fiction, Non-Fiction, True Crime, Young Adult
Pages: 184
Format: Paperback
Source: Read for Review
Buy on Amazon

{Synopsis} – When a black teen was murdered in a Sydney, Cape Breton park late one night, his young companion, Donald Marshall Jr., became a prime suspect. Sydney police coached two teens to testify against Donald which helped convict him of a murder he did not commit. He spent 11 years in prison until he finally got a lucky break. Not only was he eventually acquitted of the crime, but a royal commission inquiry into his wrongful conviction found that a non-aboriginal youth would not have been convicted in the first place. Donald became a First Nations activist and later won a landmark court case in favour of native fishing rights. He was often referred to as the “reluctant hero” of the Mi'kmaq community.

{My Thoughts} – I have always enjoyed reading about the Criminal Justice System. This book series is based on real events that have led to unfortunate miscarriages of justice.

Donald Marshall JR is an Indian that is part of the Mi’Kmaw tribe in Canada. He was just seventeen when he and his mate seventeen year old Sandy Seale had a run in with some drunk older men that had attacked them. Donald ran for help while his mate was on the ground bleeding from his midsection. The two attackers had fled the scene.

There is so much wrong with this case, how it was investigated, how the information was received and how the court trial had continued with lack of real evidence against Donald. I couldn’t imagine being in his place, being charged with life in prison for a murder I didn’t commit all because the lead detective was racist and determined when he caught the case I was the only suspect to look at.

As mentioned the lead detective was only interested in proving Donald’s guilt and dismissed any information that said that Donald hadn’t committed the crime. Instead he worked as best he could to threaten all the witnesses into telling a fabricated story of their version of the night that helped to prove his theory. Donald ended up serving eleven years in prison for a crime he didn’t commit. Eventually it was proven that he was not guilty and the real suspect had been charged for the murder, however Ebsary the actual killer got a lighter sentence.

The first detective on the scene did a poor job, the lead detective only cared about proving his theory, the witnesses all lied for fear of going to jail and Donald kept saying he didn’t do it. He kept saying who did it but didn’t have a name for the longest time.

Donald’s case helps to prove the the Justice System can in fact be flawed. It proves that even though good cops work to better the streets that not all cops are honest and uphold the letter of the law in the ways they should. It proves that even though a miscarriage of justice was first served, and even though it took years to sort out, that justice had finally prevailed. It shows that eventually the truth had come out in a sense. However, in this case it was a version of the truth that Donald had to alter in order to match Ebsary’s version. Since Ebsary admitted to the murder of Sandy but had insisted that it was self-defense. Despite all the appeals and all the attempts to clear his name in the end Ebsary was the only person that was able to completely clear his name.

In this case the Criminal Justice System had failed Donald and his family so badly that by the time things were able to be made right it was nearly to late. I am glad that he kept fighting for his right to be free, that he held true to his story for the most part and that in the end people listened and he was eventually freed of all charges. I am saddened that he had lost eleven years of his life because a variety of individuals in the Criminal Justice System did their job poorly and didn’t bother to do actual investigating. At least in Donald’s case it had been a bittersweet happy ending.

There is so much about this book I liked. I enjoyed that it was written in novel form and that it flowed so nicely. Each chapter left me wanting to read on and continue through to the next. The factual information and the novel like story blended together seamlessly and helped to create a wonderful book to read. It didn’t take me long to devour this book because it is something that is high up on my interest list. This would be a wonderful book for 13-18 and older to read for doing research projects or just wanting to learn more about how the Criminal Justice System can in the end correct the wrongs that have been made within the system.

Final Conclusion: 5 Star Rating.