Saturday, August 20, 2011

West Memphis Free

Upon starting this blog, I always wanted to keep it light and fun. I never intended it to be a soapbox because I know others don't like being inundated with someone's political agenda. However, in lieu of recent developments, I just want to say a few things about capital punishment.
I woke up this morning wondering if the events of yesterday really took place or if it was all a dream. Thankfully, it was not a dream. All three defendants in the West Memphis 3 case were released from prison after serving nearly 18 yrs. (one of which was on Death Row). For once, I'm at a loss for words to express what an accomplishment this is.

I took this case very personally and I have followed it closely for the last decade. When I first moved to Austin and attended The University of Texas, I became involved in various activist organizations one of which was The Campaign to End the Death Penalty. Living in Texas, it is quit well known that we have the highest execution rate in the country. I strongly believe in a moratorium to end the death penalty and I could talk all day about why. Since 1973, over 130 people have been release from death row with evidence (predominantly DNA evidence) of their innocence. That is incredibly startling! In Texas, a capital punishment trial costs the state $2.5 million dollars which is enough to house 40 prisoners for a lifetime. Also, there is no actual proof that capital punishment reduces crime.
Anyway, back to WM3. I first heard of The West Memphis 3 after someone gave me a music compilation to benefit the case. I grew up in a small town ( not nearly as small as West Memphis, AR) so I'm well aware of what it feels like to be an outcast. I too have been accused of being a witch, a goth, Satanic, Devil worshiping, Commie, etc. So when I read this case, I took it to heart. I was just completely blown away by this modern day witch hunt. Realistically, this could have been me, or it could have been you accused of murder for being a misfit.

Yesterday was such a huge triumph for the justice system and the anti-death penalty movement. It was a triumph for you and me, but mostly it was a triumph for three innocent men who have spent half their lives in prison for something they didn't do. Yes, legally they are considered "guilty" but that is just a technical plea so the three men do not sue the state of AR for wrongful imprisonment (which they have every right to do).

My faith in the justice system has been restored. I really do believe in the justice system which is why I want to be apart of it. I hope to someday improve upon it and fix the flaws that could cause a tragedy like this to come about in the first place. After being involved with the Yogurt Shop Murder Case and seeing those wrongfully convicted defendants released, I'm ready to see ALL innocent political prisoners freed! Before, as an activist, my role was very limited. Now after pursuing a legal career, I intend to work from the inside to help others like Robert Springsteen, Damien Echols, Michael Scott, Jessie Misskelley, Jason Baldwin, and Mumia Abu Jamal.

It really is amazing to see so many people get behind a cause and make a difference. People like Johnny Depp, Eddie Vedder, Henry Rollins, and Natalie Maines used their celebrity status to bring attention to the WM3 case. I recently discovered that even famed director Peter Jackson had been quietly funding the WM3 investigation all the way from New Zealand. Although, there were countless others like attorneys, forensic experts, writers, journalists, filmmakers, etc. who worked tirelessly on this case. There were also many people like you and me holding benefits, rallies, and vigils to keep this case relevant. There are so many amazing organizations that anyone can be apart of.

We just need to remember fight the good fight.
Peace and solidarity

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