Saturday, October 13, 2012

Damien Echols-Life After Death

Blue Rider Press

For those of you who do not know the name, Damien Echols was one of The West Memphis Three. Don't know who The West Memphis Three are? Well, they were three men (the other two being Jason Baldwin and Jessie Miskelley) who were charged with the deaths of three 8-year-old boys in 1994. Echols received a death sentence (for what became known as the Robin Hood Hill murders) and spent close to eighteen years on Death Row before being released in 2011. Before finally being released The West Memphis Three had found support from not only the general public, but celebrities and even several of the victim's family members. The murders had turned a town inside and out and, as a means of quieting down the public outrage, the police and prosecutors rushed to convict someone (anyone) before doing a proper investigation. This book is not about the case (if your interested in all the details there are articles out there about how these three young men were used as scapegoats-they were goth/heavy metal kids and outsiders), but rather about the time Echols spent in prison and then his release. For me this case was of particular interest as I felt the stigma that came with being a heavy metal fanatic (the early 90s was a time when many of us were made to feel like outsiders) then as I still deal with it now. The fact that Echols was able to overcome spending half of his life on Death Row is nothing short of amazing (I don't care that he had the support of people like Johnny Depp while he was in prison-it's still prison and to me there would be nothing worse then being away from your loved ones and not knowing if you'd ever be able to walk freely again) and this book is a must-read for not only people that followed the case, but also for those of you interested in what it is like to live a life locked up in a cage.While "West of Memphis" (a forthcoming documentary on the case) will hopefully help clear their names (as far as the law goes they are still "guilty" as the prosecutors will never admit they made a mistake) and allow them the chance to fully follow their dreams. Considering the fact  that West Memphis, Arkansas let the real killer (or killers) walk free it would also be nice if justice could be found for these three young boys. Hopefully this book (along with the upcoming documentary) will keep the focus on finding out what really happened to those poor three 8-year old boys so justice can finally be served.


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