In 1993, teenagers Damien Echols,
Jason Baldwin, and Jessie Misskelley, Jr.—who have come to be known as
the West Memphis Three—were arrested for the murders of three
eight-year-old boys in Arkansas. The ensuing trial was marked by
tampered evidence, false testimony, and public hysteria. Baldwin and
Misskelley were sentenced to life in prison; while eighteen-year-old
Echols, deemed the “ringleader,” was sentenced to death. Over the next
two decades, the WM3 became known worldwide as a symbol of wrongful
conviction and imprisonment, with thousands of supporters and many
notable celebrities who called for a new trial. In a shocking turn of
events, all three men were released in August 2011.
Now Echols shares his story in full—from abuse by prison guards and wardens, to portraits of fellow inmates and deplorable living conditions, to the incredible reserves of patience, spirituality, and perseverance that kept him alive and sane while incarcerated for nearly two decades.
In these pages, Echols reveals himself a brilliant writer, infusing his narrative with tragedy and irony in equal measure: he describes the terrors he experienced every day and his outrage toward the American justice system, and offers a firsthand account of living on Death Row in heartbreaking, agonizing detail. Life After Death is destined to be a riveting, explosive classic of prison literature.
About the Author
Damien Echols was born in 1974 and grew up in Mississippi, Tennessee, Maryland, Oregon, Texas, Louisiana, and Arkansas. At age eighteen he was wrongfully convicted of murder, along with Jason Baldwin and Jessie Miskelley, Jr. Echols received a death sentence and spent almost eighteen years on Death Row, until he, Baldwin, and Misskelley were released in 2011. The West Memphis Three have been the subject of Paradise Lost, a three-part documentary series produced by HBO, and West of Memphis, a documentary produced by Peter Jackson and Fran Walsh. Echols is the author of a self-published memoir, Almost Home. He and his wife, Lorri Davis, live in Massachusetts.