Wrongfully Accused And Convicted: “The West Memphis Three”

1096 words - 4 pages

Today, many prisoners are serving prolonged time in penitentiaries for crimes not committed. In some instances, the law rushes into convictions before getting complete facts. A small town may have needed vengeance, which leads to wrongful convictions. Ignorance of the law is also a factor for an erroneous conviction. In fact, many people do not have knowledge of the law and are not aware of their legal rights. Certain statements might falsely incriminate a person. Law Enforcement may threaten or use scare tactics to get a false declaration of guilt, but most serving time in prison for wrongful convictions are witness misidentification. Police do not take the time to get genuine proof of guilt and in the end has destroyed innocent lives. Should spending time in prison for a crime not committed be fair? Why are prisoners still serving time when the evidence is apparent proving innocence? Today, DNA testing is more efficient to prove guilt or innocence. The case I have researched references three boys convicted of murders with no substantial evidentiary support to prove guilt and how DNA evidence may help obtain an acquittal anticipated for eighteen years.
According to the Innocence Project website, there have been 272 post conviction DNA exonerations in the United States (“Innocence”). Since the late 1980’s, DNA testing has exonerated more than 250 wrongly convicted people, who spent an average of 13 years in prison for crimes they didn’t commit (Rosen, New York Times, 2011). There are a total of 205 exonerations that have been won in 34 states since 2000, and 35 percent of those confessions were done by an individual that was eighteen years old or younger (“Innocence”). An example of a confession gone wrong from a child under eighteen years old is the case known as the “West Memphis Three”. The case involves three teenage boys from West Memphis accused of killing three 8 year old boys. After being reported missing a day later, the victims were discovered in a drainage ditch. During that time, there was no supporting evidence collected at the crime scene to prove who committed the murders. A lieutenant who contacted a juvenile officer in Memphis both agreed someone in a cult executed the gruesome murders. The juvenile officer quickly knew of someone who was capable of the murders. The police immediately interviewed Damien Echols, accused of cult rituals. Damien Echols responded with answers that detailed the murders known throughout the community. Unfortunately, this made Damien look guilty, because he stated details of the crime scene police thought only the killer would have known. Damien’s appearance was very strange, different and not considered “normal” in the communities beliefs. His Wiccan beliefs and gothic appearance made him look guilty. Not only was Damien deemed guilty of this crime, but two other boys were also accused of these murders. There are many inconsistencies with the case, because of false witness statements. For instance,...

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