Now available: Mara Leveritt's 'Dark Spell' on Jason Baldwin of the West Memphis Three | Arkansas Blog

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Now available: Mara Leveritt's 'Dark Spell' on Jason Baldwin of the West Memphis Three

Posted By on Tue, Jun 3, 2014 at 1:48 PM

click to enlarge 12a4aef8-ff6e-403c-8fd1-bc6bbfa7b80f.png
The second of Mara Leveritt's three books on the West Memphis Three case is now available.

"Dark Spell" is the story of Jason Baldwin, 16 when charged with killing three children. From her description:

While claiming he knew nothing about the crime, he shared Americans' general confidence in their legal system. At first, he expected forensic science to clear him. Facing trial, he believed that its aim was to get at the truth. Even when he was convicted, he believed that higher courts would address such clear errors as his attorneys’ failure to present his alibi witnesses. Jason was, in a sense, “everyman.”

Dark Spell introduces readers to what Jason endured and learned. Weighing less than 120 pounds, he entered prison to face hardened criminals who saw him as both an easy target and a child-killer deserving to die. Jason did survive, though sometimes barely. But, as months dragged into years, he faced an even greater challenge: the state's relentless assault on his hopes for justice. His struggle to grow up, stay brave, and hold true to his values forms Dark Spell’s gritty but encouraging core. Yet this is more than a survival story.

After the West Memphis Three's extraordinary release in 2011, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled life sentences for minors unconstitutional. But how reasonable are the thousands of other life sentences courts routinely hand down? At what point does solitary confinement, such as Jason repeatedly suffered, become “cruel and unusual punishment”? As cases of prosecutor misconduct draw increasing national attention, why has Arkansas failed to examine irregularities in the West Memphis case? And how long will courts continue to deny cameras ready access to trials? Questions like these shadowed Jason's years in prison. He and the author hope that what he learned inside America's criminal justice system will propel a close examination of practices that still plague the West Memphis case—as well as many others. 

Leveritt's first book, "Devil's Knot," is now a feature film.

You can hear her talk about her latest book in this interview on public radio.

Tags: , , ,

From the ArkTimes store

Favorite

Comments (5)

Showing 1-5 of 5

Add a comment

 
Subscribe to this thread:
Showing 1-5 of 5

Add a comment

More by Max Brantley

Readers also liked…

  • Federal judge wants John Goodson to explain class action maneuvering

    A show-cause order filed Monday by federal Judge P.K. Holmes of Fort Smith indicates class action attorney John Goodson has some explaining to do about the move of a class action complaint against an insurance company from federal to state court with an instant pre-packaged settlement that has been criticized as a windfall for Goodson.
    • Dec 22, 2015
  • Federal judge reprimands John Goodson for misconduct in class-action case

    John Goodson  — the Texarkana attorney, D.C. lobbyist, and husband of Arkansas State Supreme Court Justice Courtney Goodson — was reprimanded today by a federal judge for his conduct in a class-action case.
    • Aug 3, 2016
  • Auditor Lea caught not telling the truth

    State Auditor Andrea Lea, who began her tenure in statewide office with a degree of competence unseen in some other Republican counterparts (think Treasurer Dennis Milligan particularly), is becoming more deeply mired in a political scandal.
    • Mar 4, 2016

Most Shared

  • 'Cemetery angel' Ruth Coker Burks featured in new short film

    Ruth Coker Burks, the AIDS caregiver and activist memorably profiled by David Koon as the cemetery angel in Arkansas Times in 2015, is now the subject of a short film made by actress Rose McGowan.
  • Buyer remorse

    Out here in flyover country, you can't hardly go by the feed store without running into a reporter doing one of those Wisdom of the Heartland stories.
  • Not Whitewater

    Just think: If Democrats had turned out 78,000 more votes in three states in November, people could be reveling today in the prospect of impeaching and convicting President Hillary Clinton, not Donald Trump, as some Republican lawmakers had promised to try to do if she won.
  • Head-shaking

    Another edition of so-much-bad-news-so-little space.

Most Recent Comments

Blogroll

 

© 2017 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation