Review of The Other Dr. Gilmer: Two men, a Murder, and an Unlikely Fight for Justice
Rating **** 1/2
Dr. Benjamin Gilmer is eager to start his new position as a family physician, helping people in rural North Carolina. However, he soon learns from staff and former patients that the doctor he is replacing is serving a life sentence for murdering his father. He also discovers that the former doctor shared his last name.
The curiosity over the other Dr. Gilmer eventually leads Benjamin to contact the former doctor in prison. Unfortunately, that initial contact doesn’t go well. But soon after, Benjamin receives a letter from him with a simple request – help me.
It doesn’t take long for the author to realize that the man he replaced, Dr. Vince Gimer, has a mental illness. The more he learns, the more he becomes convinced that Vince Gilmer was a victim of not only his mental illness but also a victim of the criminal justice system.
In his efforts to uncover the details of the crime and the mental illness that led Vince to commit such a brutal act, the author touches on a wide range of related topics: mass incarceration, mental illness in today’s prisons, fair and equitable sentencing, the politics of pardons, and the role of prisons as punishment only institutions.
Benjamin Gilmer becomes an advocate for Vince and fights to have him released from prison where he can receive treatment for his illness. His efforts eventually lead Benjamin to consider writing a book about Vince’s plight. When Benjamin asked Vince what he wanted the book to say, he said the following:
Prison is torture
Sexual abuse changes you forever
We are all at the mercy of our brains
Listening is healing
That perfectly sums up the resulting book.