Mara Leveritt, a contributing editor to the Arkansas Times and past Arkansas Journalist of the Year, is the author of two nonfiction books about crime and public corruption. She has reported for almost three decades on police, courts and prisons. Leveritt is the author of The Boys on the Tracks (1998, St. Martin’s Press), about murder and prosecutorial corruption in Saline County and most famously Devil’s Knot (2002, Atria), about the deeply problematic trials of the teenagers who became known as the West Memphis Three. Both books were awarded Arkansas’s prestigious Booker Worthen Prize. A feature film of Devil’s Knot, starring Colin Firth and Reese Witherspoon, is set for release near the end of this year.
In early 2012, Leveritt was granted a Laman Fellowship to continue work on her current book, which examines the events that culminated last year, when the West Memphis Three were suddenly released, without trials, from sentences they were handed almost eighteen years ago. Last August, in a brief court hearing that the judge said will likely be scrutinized for years to come, the men both pleaded guilty to murdering three eight-year-old children and stated that they did not commit the crime. The state accepted that plea, sentenced the men to time-served, and allowed them to go free, requiring neither probation nor parole. Leveritt’s current book, Justice Knot, will tease apart the many personal, legal and political issues that keep this infamous case so disturbing.
Leveritt has contributed to the University of Arkansas at Little Rock Law Review and speaks regularly on legal topics. Her reporting experience has led her to advocate electronic recording of all custodial police interviews and criminal trials. For more about her views, she suggests the excellent interview by Isabelle Laskari for Upstart Magazine.