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: , , ,


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

  • Today's the day for landlord-tenant bill UPDATE Another defeat

    Rep. Jimmy Gazaway (R-Paragould) says he will present his HB 1410 to provide protection to renters at a committee meeting after adjournment today. The bill will incorporate changes suggested by the Arkansas Realtors Assocviation, but that powerful lobby still won't support the bill. UPDATE: the bill fell one vote short.
    • Mar 18, 2019
  • Headlines and the open line

    A busy legislature leads the day's video news roundup. Here's the open line.
    • Mar 18, 2019
  • Senate committee approves tobacco tax bill with income tax cut

    The Senate Revenue and Taxation Committee this morning endorsed Sen. Jim Hendren's SB 571 to provide an income tax cut for low-income people and make up the revenue loss with an increase in the tax on cigarettes and other smoking products.
    • Mar 18, 2019
  • More »

Readers also liked…

  • Sabin's subterfuge in the race for mayor has roots in rigged city government

    The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reports that an ethics complaint has been filed saying that the exploratory committee Rep. Warwick Sabin created to prepare for a run for Little Rock mayor was a subterfuge to avoid the city ordinance that doesn't allow campaign fundraising to begin until five months before the November 2018 election.Of course it is.
    • Aug 10, 2017
  • Use of solar on the rise in Arkansas

    With a pivotal ruling expected any day now from the Public Service Commission, Kyle Massey at Arkansas Business reports on the increase in Arkansans adding solar generation units on their homes and business.
    • Apr 13, 2018
  • Antwan Phillips wants to make a difference in reducing Little Rock violence

    KARK/Fox 16's push to do something about Little Rock violence includes a spotlight on people trying to make a difference — in this episode Antwan Phillips, a lawyer at Wright, Lindsey and Jennings.
    • Aug 30, 2017

Slideshows

Most Recent Comments

 

© 2019 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation