Painting by Marilyn Manson of Damien Echols from his visitation cell on death row in Arkansas
HOLY HERETIC DEVOTIONAL-Nov. 7, 2016-I WAS IN PRISON AND YOU VISITED ME
Compiled by Mercy Junction Administrative Assistant, Reiki Master, and Empath Kali Meister
“All the old stories have it wrong, because it’s not the ghost that haunts the house; it’s the house that haunts the ghost.” –Damien Echols, Life After Death
In 1994 Damien Echols, eighteen years-old at the time, was convicted of the murders of three eight year-old boys in West Memphis, Arkansas and sentenced to death. The case surrounding these murders was such a travesty of justice that four documentaries were produced about the case, several novels and movies were made about the events surrounding the crime, and many high powered celebrities and musicians rallied to raise awareness of the case and aid the legal funds to get Damien Echols and the two other men, Jessie Misskelley Jr. and Jason Baldwin released. After serving eighteen years of their sentences on August 19, 2011, attorneys entered an Alford plea, which allowed the convicted men to assert their innocence while acknowledging that prosecutors have enough evidence to convict them. Their judge accepted the pleas and sentenced the three to time served.
The sad fact that is no longer up for discussion is that it is painfully obvious these men, who went into prison as boys, lost half their lives in the prison system because they were convicted of a crime they did not commit. This was a case where the major pieces of evidence were that Damien was Wiccan, which to the District Attorney equaled Satanism, and a forty-five minute taped interview taken at the end of a twelve hour interrogation where the chain of events were not even presented correctly and the statement sounds coerced. There was no DNA to link these men to the crime scene. The police found no murder weapon. None of the accused had a vehicle and all experts acknowledged that the victims had been moved and staged at the scene. And, the forty-five minute taped interview was taken during a twelve hour interrogation of a seventeen year-old young man with an I.Q. of 68. He did not have an attorney and his parents were not there when he went through the twelve hours of interrogation. His confession, which has incredible inaccuracy to the facts of the case, was the principle piece of evidence that convicted the three young men of murder.
After Echols was released he wrote Life After Death, a novel about his experience on death row. Since listening to Echols read the book on audio I have been in awe and moved by the quote, “All the old stories have it wrong, because it’s not the ghost that haunts the house; it’s the house that haunts the ghost.” I so very identify with this sentiment. I think we all seek home, whether that be the place we grew up or a place that called us to it. For some people, at some point in their lives, home may be unattainable. For me, I’m not sure I have found home yet. I moved around a lot as a kid and no place has ever felt like it was my home. When this happens a person can feel isolated and lonely. It is in this moment that the people around you are all that centers you, especially if seeking a home is important. I think of the line from Finding Dory where Dory says, “When I look at you, I’m home.” That is why being there for someone who is somehow imprisoned is important, because in that moment you may the closest thing they have to home.
Today’s Action: Effort to contact someone you have not spoken to or seen in a while and see if they need you in their life.
Today’s Sharing: Share your stories on our Facebook page at facebook.com/holyhereticzine
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