Change of Heart: Justice, Mercy, and Making Peace with My Sister's Killer
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Westminster John Knox Press / 2015 / Hardcover
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Change of Heart: Justice, Mercy, and Making Peace with My Sister's Killer

Westminster John Knox Press / 2015 / Hardcover

In Stock
Stock No: WW259976


Product Description

Change of Heart begins with tragedy: the murder of Jeanne Bishop's sister Nancy, along with Nancy's husband and their unborn child, in their home some twenty-five years ago. In her dying moments, Nancy wrote a message in her own blood at the crime scene: a heart shape and the letter "u." Love you.

This is the story of Bishop's uneven journey to confronting and reconciling with the man who took her sister's life, a journey full of hard first steps and painful second thoughts. Along the way, Bishop takes on the larger issues of restorative justice, life sentences for juveniles, and incarceration in the criminal justice system. Her story unflinchingly acknowledges the personal cost of advocating for mercy for people convicted to serious crimes. In the end, Change of Heart is a story of moving beyond mere forgiveness to the deeper waters of redemption and grace. Hardcover.

Product Information

Format: Hardcover
Number of Pages: 160
Vendor: Westminster John Knox Press
Publication Date: 2015
Dimensions: 8.50 X 5.50 (inches)
ISBN: 0664259979
ISBN-13: 9780664259976

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Publisher's Description

This powerful, true story of faith and forgiveness shows that all of us are capable of experiencing the healing and renewal that comes with truly forgiving another. Change of Heart follows the transformative journey undertaken by Jeanne Bishop after the murders of her sister and brother-in-law, a journey that challenged Jeanne's belief in the message of Jesus on the cross and eventually moved her beyond simple forgiveness to the deeper waters of redemption and grace. Jeanne's authentic story will guide readers past the temptation of anger and revenge, and help them navigate the path of truly forgiving someone whose actions have hardened their heart.

From once wishing that her sister's killer languished in a cell for the rest of his life, Jeanne now visits him regularly in prison and publicly advocates for his release. "It's not okay what you did, but I am not going to hate you. I am not going to wish evil on you," writes Bishop of the murderer. "I am going to wish the opposite. I am going to wish that you will be redeemed."

"The criminal justice system in the United States, which deems some people unworthy of redemption--even children who commit serious crimes--urgently needs to hear voices that speak for mercy and restoration. Jeanne Bishop's is such a voice" writes Sr. Helen Prejean, activist and author of Dead Man Walking. Change of Heart confronts these serious and pressing issues of restorative justice, juvenile life sentences, and incarceration in the criminal justice system. Ultimately, Jeanne is writing more than a memoir of finding faith through extraordinary obstacles. Her compelling story offers a better understanding of what it truly means to be a person of faith. It is a call to action that is a "must-read for pastors, social workers, caregivers, and all who seek to build community with people relegated to the margins" (Greg Ellison, Emory University).

Author Bio

Jeanne Bishop is a public defender and an outspoken activist for the abolition of the death penalty. She speaks throughout the United States in support of gun violence prevention, abolition of the death penalty, forgiveness, and the role of victims in the criminal justice system. Her written work has appeared in The Huffington Post, CNN.com, Sojourners, The Christian Century, the Chicago Sun-Times and the Chicago Tribune, among other publications. She has been featured in several documentary films, including Too Flawed to Fix, Deadline and The Innocent. A graduate of Northwestern University School of Law and a recipient of its alumni award for public service, she practices law with the Office of the Cook County (IL) Public Defender.

Editorial Reviews

"This book is an extraordinary witness for survivors of crime and all of us who seek a more compassionate, thoughtful and responsible way to manage the tragic ways we hurt each other. Courageous and honest, Ms. Bishop's compelling story is a gift for anyone seeking a way to think about punishment and reconciliation in a society where families are too often burdened by violence and the avenging politics of fear and anger."--Bryan Stevenson, Founder and Director of the Equal Justice Initiative and author of Just Mercy


"Change of Heart is a powerful story of faith, forgiveness, and reconciliation. This is a painfully honest account of a remarkable and courageous journey from the tragedy and pain of the murder of family members to a place of freedom and grace." --Maurice Possley, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and author


"Change of Heart is a tragic story of senseless violence, horrific loss, and, in the end, forgiveness that is astonishing. I kept asking myself - 'As a Christian, could I be as strong and merciful as Jeanne Bishop? ' I have my doubts." -- John Grisham, bestselling author


"A person is more than the worst thing he or she has ever done. God loves all human beings and endows them with dignity and worth. Juvenile life without parole sentences tell people who committed their crimes as juveniles that they are human garbage, to be thrown away into the maw of prison until the day they die. The criminal justice system in the United States, which deems some people unworthy of redemption--even children who commit serious crimes--urgently needs to hear voices that speak for mercy and restoration. Jeanne Bishop's is such a voice." --Sr. Helen Prejean, activist and author of Dead Man Walking


As a reporter in Arkansas covering Governor Bill Clinton in the 1980s and '90s, I watched the state murder three men, including a cop-killer named Ricky Ray Rector, whose execution helped elevate Clinton to the presidency. I heard Rector moan for 20 minutes before witnessing his death. As the son of a Detroit cop, that experience left me tangled in emotions -- until I read Jeanne Bishop's extraordinary book, Change of Heart, and, through her painfully personal storytelling, I felt the soft power of mercy, forgiveness and Grace. Bishop's sister Nancy now lives in me, alongside the killers I watched die.--Ron Fournier, Senior Political Columnist and Editorial Director, "National Journal"


"There is a lot of grace in Jeanne Bishop's elegant, elegiac book Change of Heart, but it is not a wimpy hearts-and-flowers kind of grace. Instead, it is a heartfelt, gut-wrenching kind of grace. Powerful grace. Transformative grace. This is an utterly surprising story of redemption. It is an unflinching look at the very real cost of blessing-- truly blessing--someone else. Jeanne's story of restorative justice haunts me. The stunning letter she wrote to her sister's murderer still lingers. And the story of the grace of the gift of two quarters is one I will retell and retell again. Change of heart is what happens when someone, in the depths of despair, cries, 'This is too much for me. God, take it and redeem it,' and believes ... no matter the cost. Please read this book." --Robert Darden, associate Professor of Journalism PR & New Media at Baylor University and author of Nothing but Love in God's Water.


"Jeanne Bishop's words have the power to heal the hearts of the grieving, convict the hearts of the judgmental, and liberate the hearts of a nation hardened by fear, vengeance, and excessive punishment. Change of Heart is a must-read for pastors, social workers, caregivers, and all who seek to build community with people relegated to the margins." --Greg Ellison, Emory University, author of Cut Dead but Still Alive: Caring for African American Young Men and founder of Fearless Dialogues


"When I commuted the death sentences of everyone on Illinois's death row, I expressed the hope that we could open our hearts and provide something for victims' families other than the hope of revenge. I quoted Abraham Lincoln: 'I have always found that mercy bears richer fruits than strict justice.' Jeanne Bishop's compelling book tells the story of how devotion to her faith took her face-to-face with her sister's killer and changed her mind about the sentence he is serving--life in prison without the possibility of parole. She reminds us of a core truth: that our criminal justice system cannot be just without mercy."

--Gov. George H. Ryan, Governor of Illinois 1999-2003


"Every murder involves two people: the murderer and the victim. Most of us want to remain as far as we can from either one. The chasm between the two is immense, with darkness in between. But occasionally someone comes along who attempts to bridge this divide at tremendous personal risk, putting the victim's life into the killer's stare, in the hope that some light might emerge. Such a person is Jeanne Bishop, whose sister was brutally killed. She has written a mesmerizing book, Change of Heart, describing her difficult journey through loss to confronting evil. Reading this book takes you to places you'd rather avoid, but you may come away treasuring life even more." --Richard C. Dieter, Executive Director, Death Penalty Information Center

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