Dark Spell – Surviving The Sentence

For many who’ve heard of the West Memphis Three–especially through Devil’s Knot and/or the feature film based on that book–the story of their trials ended when the court handed down their sentences. For the teenagers, though, that moment marked the start of yet another story, one more dangerous than the first.

Jason Baldwin was sixteen, the youngest of the three teenagers, when he heard himself sentenced to life in prison with no possibility of parole.

Dark Spell is the account of what it was like to be taken in handcuffs and shackles into Arkansas’s adult prison system, where inmates and guards alike saw him as a Satanic child-killer. Many of those who sent him there did not expect him to survive. Prison officials shared the same, realistic fear. More than once, death hovered perilously near. But Jason survived, day by day and year by year, in one of the harshest environments on American soil.

This would be a hard story to bear, save that it is brightened and transformed by Jason’s insight and upbeat persona.

Dark Spell illuminates the many ways America’s justice system, once having gone wrong, can fight to sustain that wrong. It celebrates the countless ordinary heroes who rose up, using art and new technology, to challenge trials they perceived as mockeries of justice.

At its heart, Dark Spell walks readers into prison with an innocent teenager and reveals how he managed to forge a life of honor by not abandoning his personal integrity, demanding an education, and discovering the peace to be found in kicking Hacky Sack.


Reader Reviews for Dark Spell – Surviving The Sentence

Mara has done an amazing job with Dark Spell… highlighting not only the experiences of Jason Baldwin, but his huge heart, faith, and unstoppable spirit and inner strength… Highly recommend.

Zoey Jordan

An uncomfortable but gripping journey into the real-world effect of the WM3 case on an extraordinary human being.

D. Davis

Great book. A gripping, well told story.

Thomas Mashburn

Extremely informative about not only [Jason’s] time incarcerated but about the case itself. I was not prepared for the book to suddenly end in 2007… But makes me anxious for the next book.


Simply put, this is a great book.

Ben Roberts