The Mara Leveritt Blog

Mara has written extensively on criminal justice in Arkansas and America. Mara writes regularly about “cryptolaw,” a word she coined to explain how plain language is often distorted by members of the legal system to the detriment of public trust.

Chosen by the Southeast Region of the American Board of Trial Advocates in 2012, Mara was named Journalist of the Year, “in recognition of her years of unbiased reporting of the facts and legal arguments in many high-profile court proceedings and her persistent efforts to explain to the public the reasoning underlying sometimes controversial court decisions.”

Major topics on the Mara Leveritt Blog include the West Memphis Three case, the Tim Howard case, Abuse of Power by members of the legal system, the Death Penalty, the War on Drugs and much more. Use the list in the right hand column to explore them all.

Fight to the death

Should we kill on technicalities? (This commentary appears as a sidebar to my article in this week’s Arkansas Times about state Death Row prisoner Tim Howard. Damien Echols believes that Howard is innocent, and three justices of the Arkansas Supreme Court have expressed concern that there was not enough evidence to convict Howard, let alone sentence […]

Surviving by magick—Part 1

Damien Echols breaks his long silence on the occult [private]Later this year, when a court in Jonesboro holds the evidentiary hearing ordered last September by the Arkansas Supreme Court, Damien Echols, Jason Baldwin and Jessie Misskelley, Jr., will have been behind bars for 18 years. Echols has spent almost all of that time on Arkansas’s […]

Welcome to a cell on Arkansas’s Death Row

A inmate’s model shows the scale of confinement in Arkansas’s Supermax [private]Pictured here are two views of a cell on Arkansas’s Death Row. The photos are of a model that was made legally by a Death Row inmate, using materials that were allowed at the time. The model was then given to a free-world visitor, as […]

Reflections on ‘visits’ with three men in prison

This fine observation is from the Observer column in yesterday’s Arkansas Times.

No snakes in heaven

Misskelley reflects on work, chow and how much he’s changed since his sentence [private]Jessie Misskelley, Jr. wakes up at 2:30 a.m. Most of the time, he doesn’t go to breakfast. “I just don’t like it,” he says. Six days a week, he works in the laundry at the prison system’s Varner Unit, in southeast Arkansas. […]

Jason Baldwin on being free: Arkansas Times video interview, Jan. 14, 2011

The Arkansas Times is the only publication that has consistently voiced concern about the trials of Damien Echols, Jason Baldwin and Jessie Misskelley, Jr.—and called for a court review of their cases.  Now that the Arkansas Supreme Court has ordered that review, the Times editors, foreseeing a critical year ahead, sought interviews and photographs of the men. They were denied interview with Echols […]

MLK: ‘I am in Birmingham because injustice is here.’

If you have not read (or recently re-read) Dr. Martin Luther King’s 1963 “Letter from a Birmingham Jail,” this holiday in his honor might be a good time to do it. King later wrote that he composed his famous letter “under somewhat constricting circumstances,” after his arrest during a civil rights demonstration. The letter was in response to a letter […]

The ‘conscious decision’ that earned Jason Baldwin 77 days in solitary

An almost perfect prison record–and he marred it with eyes wide open [private]Almost any prison officer who’s had anything to do with Jason Baldwin will tell you that—with one very large exception—he’s been a model inmate. Between 1994, when Baldwin entered the Arkansas Department of Correction at the age of 16, and now, when he’s […]

Look at some of the artists who’ve supported the WM3

For years, Anje Vela, at Skeleton Key Auctions, has been raising money for the WM3 with the help of many, many artists who’ve contributed valuable autographed items. Anje has now put together an awesome video recounting some of that history.

The very cool background music is “West Memphis Moon” by Chuck Prophet.

Blood evidence on inmate Echols

The severity of policies at Arkansas’s Supermax can be seen in prisoners’ wounds [private]Damien Echols lifts the white pant’s leg of his prison uniform to show a visitor his sock. Even through the glass that separates them, the visitor can see that the sock is stained by fresh red. Echols stretches out his arms, exposing […]