If ever a cliche to be true, "If you think your life is bad, there is someone out there who has it worse," doesn't even describe the ordeal recounted in the book "Life After Death" by Damien Echols. If you haven't read this book yet, trust me when I tell you that this is one of those books that you will not be able to put down. It is one of those books that leave you asking the question, how can something like this happen? In a country that's core is strengthened by a constitution that is supposed to protect us and a judicial system that is supposed to honor due process and provide justice for all failed to protect its young, especially the innocent.
In 1993, Damien Echols, Jason Baldwin, and Jessie Misskelley Jr., best known as the West Memphis Three, were falsely accused of a horrific murder involving three young boys. The investigation led by local law enforcement was an aggressively pursued vigilant manhunt which led to their unjust imprisonment in which Echols was sentenced to death while Baldwin and Misskelley received life sentences. Their trial included false allegations, altered evidence, and the complete denial of anything which would’ve proven their innocence which could’ve led to their exoneration. After two decades of being imprisoned, their case drew public support including a series of events which led to their long awaited release.
When you think of someone in jail, your first thought might be who cares. They deserve to be there right? Chances are their crimes are justified but what happens when they are innocent? That journey of proving one’s innocence was so eloquently written for a moment shatters our perception from the perspective of someone who is incarcerated.
Through his journals and writings that were salvaged, we are taken on an incredible journey in which we share his heart breaking experience of his challenged upbringing through his unfathomable experience as an innocent person experiencing the death of their life in the worst form of human punishment. A life taken away, stripped of its’ identity and replaced as a numeral statistic that cannot be given back. This story defines strength, perseverance, and the testament of the human spirit of the depths of its core.
Reviewed by Michelle Bowles
Publisher: Penguin Group USA
Release Date: 5/7/2013