And that’s good news—but not cause for ignoring larger patterns of injustice.
Forgiveness can get a bad rap. Especially when race is involved. In a nation built on the backs of enslaved Africans—and on the white supremacy that justified it—no interaction between a white man with power and a black man without it is ever just an isolated, inspiring story about the power of forgiveness.
Yet that’s the premise of Convicted: A Crooked Cop, an Innocent Man, and an Unlikely Journey of Forgiveness and Friendship. Told through the first-person reflections of former “bad cop” Andrew Collins and the innocent black man, Jameel McGee, who spent four years in federal prison due to Collins’s wrongful arrest of him, the book follows their unlikely friendship—forged in the furnace of forgiveness.
McGee was living in poverty-stricken Benton Harbor, Michigan, when he asked a relative’s crack-carrying friend to give him a ride to the store to buy milk for his baby son. Waiting nearby was narcotics officer Andrew Collins, who routinely planted evidence and falsified his police reports to help secure convictions of poor black men like McGee. His motive? Looking good to fellow officers.
As Collins attests, “I had become a monster, not out of greed or zeal or my questionable tactics or lack of integrity. No, I fell into the abyss because I was weighed down by pride.”
This can be frustrating to read. True, Collins was caught and received a 37-month sentence (later reduced to 18 months.) The innocent McGee spent four years in prison. But even after his release, the phony drug conviction shackled him. Demoralized, jobless, penniless, and homeless, he would sleep in a relative’s car, enduring freezing Michigan nights. He was nearly suicidal before a loving aunt pointed …