The Memphis Three: Robbed Of The Best Years Of Their Life.

Posted: August 19, 2013 in LIFE, RECENT EVENTS
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Jason Head_Shot[1]

By Jason Sutcliffe

Try and imagine for a second that at 18-years-old you are arrested for the murder of 3 eight year old boys. A crime of which you were completely innocent. Then not only are you arrested but you are convicted and sentenced to the rest of your life in prison.

Convicted with zero physical evidence, but rather on your choice of clothing, music, reading material and a manipulated confession from a suspect with a mental handicap (Jessie Misskelley), which has more holes in it than Swiss cheese, Sounds like your worst nightmare, right? Well for Jessie Misskelley, Jason Baldwin, and Damien Echols this was their reality.

In 1994, the three were convicted in the murder of three young boys in West Memphis, Arkansas. During the trial, the young men appeared very relaxed and sure of their innocence. At one point during the trial, a reporter asked Damien Echols what he thought of the charges brought against him and his friends. He replied, “They are bullshit, and I can not wait for this to be over”.

Well, it would not be over for 18 years. It would take 18 years, numerous advocacy groups, documentaries, and a group of unexpected Hollywood celebrities including Johnny Depp, Henry Rollins, Eddie Vedder and the Dixie Chicks, before the judicial system would acknowledge they had made a catastrophic error in sentencing these three to life in prison.

The courts were not willing to admit they made a mistake. Instead, the three were forced into using an obscure law known as the Alfred Plea. The plea would require them to maintain their innocence and acknowledge that the courts had enough evidence to convict them.

One of the most significant things to remember about a situation like this where people get railroaded by the justice system, is put best by Henry Rollins when he said, “It could be have been anyone of us.” I believe this is the reason these groups reached out to help.  They identified with these young men, and the fact that they were targeted due to their taste in fashion, clothes and music with zero physical evidence.

Since their release, the three men have worked hard to put their lives back together. Misskelley has moved back to Arkansas in the same area he grew up in and has been doing some carpentry work, Baldwin is working towards his law degree, but has had difficulties with a triple murder on his record and Damien Echols has written a book, but has issues travelling due to his record.

The justice system did not only let down these three men, but also Michael Moor, Christopher Byers and Steven Branch—the three young boys that were found dead in the woods. For those boys there has been no justice, instead more tragedy.

The justice system’s failure to re-open the case, and attempt to bring justice to the cold blooded killer(s) who still walks the street is a slap in the face to the three young boys, their families, and the three men wrongly accused.

Many lives were destroyed by these events; from the victim’s family to the wrongly accused and their families. Damien Echols had an infant son when he was sentenced to life, one he never got to know.

His son had recently found himself in trouble with the law; charged with Shoplifting and failure to appear in court. I can not help but feel like he is just another victim in the ripple effect of this case. All we can do is hope all the people involved are able to find peace and happiness in their life.

This story has inspired the recently released motion picture the West Memphis Three, and the soundtrack titled West Memphis Three: Voices of Justice, with music by Eddie Vedder, Marilyn Manson, Bob Dylan and more. Without all of these people and their willingness to fight for justice, Jessie, Jason and Damien would still be sitting in a cell, serving a life sentence for something they never did.

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