Joanna Catherine Scott

Available from http://mainstreetragbookstore.com

A collection written in collaboration with one of North Carolina’s Death Row innocents, now my adopted son.

Winner of the North Carolina Poetry Society’s


John Lee (Conaway) Scott

“This is an important book—poetically, thematically, socially, politically.”

––The Pedestal Magazine

Click HERE for an NPR interview with Frank Stasio on "The State of Things."

WUNC 91.5 FM

"One of the charges often levelled at poetry today is

that it is irrelevant, that it is written only for academes

and other poets, that it is neither concerned with nor

can play any role in the real world of the vast majority of people.

An Innocent in the House of the Dead clearly and strongly

refutes that claim."

––Wild Goose Poetry Review

"I will never forget what might have been Joanna's first performance of these poems at poetry Spark 2009 where she stunned and stopped in their tracks some of the younger spoken word poets. From the first time I read it I felt this was a great work of art, passion, compassion, and an aexample of living a life of poetrry in the real world. It is a reminder to poets that art is not just to be created, but to be live."

––Cal Nordt, Apogee Writing Services



“Thank you for sticking with my Brother and shining light on his situation, since we all know that he did not commit those crimes. Thank you, Thank you, Thank you. Thank you.”


"Some of the poems were funny, and some painful. Some felt like I wrote them myself,

that's how much I could relate.

John Lee is a great representative of the plight and emotions of people in our situation, the ones capable of any form of thinking that is."


"You all sure do know how to bring light where there is darkness. I'd just come back from an attorney visit and I wasn't feeling good, and then here comes your book. Like pow-yow! You're not forgotten. It's great to be reminded of that."


All the poems are deep and personal between you two. I'm glad you both decided to share your story to the world! You continue to be John Lee's ROCK and SAFE HAVEN!  He has grown so much!!!

You have been a positive influence upon his life.

I know he has been a positive influence on your life. You took a chance and stepped out your comfort zone to a world of Blessings!"

“What an incredible story!

Blessings to you as you all pursue justice

for John Lee.” ––Melanie G. Snyder,

Lancaster County Reentry Management Organization.

"For twenty years I have wondered what the victims of this dreadful crime looked like and finally Joanna has been able to send me a photograph. Two handsome young white men, laughing and happy and in love. I cried when I saw their faces. Their families have my deepest compassion, my utmost respect, my utmost remorse for lending Grandma’s gun to my cousin, because that gun killed their loved ones. I don’t know if it was my cousin who pulled the trigger, or one of his two friends, or someone else entirely, but I do know that when I loaned that gun I started off a domino effect that ended in a tragedy. And for the families of those two young men it was a double tragedy. They not only lost their loved ones, but for all these years they have been blaming the wrong man. I pray for them, and I pray for myself as well, because I am as much a victim as their loved ones. I am an innocent man, and I hurt too. I am in pain every day of my life. I cannot be expected to respect their feelings so far over mine that I just shut my mouth and die. Don’t I have a right as a wrongly convicted man to have my voice heard, and to help bring the real killers to justice?” --John Lee Scott

On the other hand . . .

    “Conway,” one of the guards said, “You always talking about freedom, but what you think you going do out in the world?”

    John spoke about going home to his new Momma - me - and his new family, of making something of himself. He spoke of helping people, changing things, doing good.

The guard said, “Man, you crazy, man. You better keep away from them white people. You better come on home to where you belong” - by which he meant the ghetto. “Man, those white people, they going lynch you, man, ain’t going do nothing for you, just leave you standing on the corner like a fool.”