iddewes: (russ and noel)
To all my friends and family, my attorneys and advocates, and to those of you from every corner of this earth who have stood beside us these long years, please know that I will forever be indebted to all of you for helping me to become a free man. Each and every day I was the beneficiary of acts of kindness and humanity from people of all walks of life, of all ages, nationalities, religions and political persuasions. The enormity of the support Lorri and I received throughout this struggle is humbling.
I have now spent half my life on death row. It is a torturous environment that no human being should have to endure, and it needed to end. I am innocent, as are Jason and Jessie, but I made this decision because I did not want to spend another day of my life behind those bars. I want to live and to continue to fight for our innocence. Sometimes justice is neither pretty nor is it perfect, but it was important to take this opportunity to be free.

I am not alone as there are tens of thousand of men and woman in this country who have been wrongfully convicted, forced into a false confession, sentenced to death or a lifetime in prison. I am hopeful that one day they too will be able stand with their friends and family to declare their innocence.

This whole experience has taught me much about life, human nature, American justice, survival and transcendence.

I will hopefully take those lessons with me as I embark on the next chapter in my journey and along the way look forward to enjoying some of those simple things in life like spending Christmastime, Halloween and my birthday with those I love.

http://www.arktimes.com/ArkansasBlog/archives/2011/08/19/damien-echols-statement-on-plea-deal

The words of Damien Echols, finally released yesterday after 17 years in prison and on Death Row for a crime he didn't commit. You've got to wonder if the part about 'American justice' is slightly ironic, as he still isn't cleared from the crime. But the main thing is he is FREE and finally able to be with his wife again, and so are the other 2 guys jailed with him for the same thing. I've been following the case for years, and while I don't feel like I did nearly enough for them, at least I did donate some money and tried to publicise what happened to them somewhat.
The thing is...in some ways they are lucky, because the press got onto it and people found out about them, celebrities like Johnny Depp, Eddie Vedder, The Cure, Henry Rollins etc supported them. How many others are there in prison for something they did not do, only convicted because they were different? We had the case of Barry George in this country, who was convicted of the murder of the TV presenter Jill Dando, again I think basically because he was a bit weird and lived near her. Well he is out as well and at least did not have to stay in as long as these guys. But this is a big reason, why I am totally against the death penalty and will not live in a country where it still exists. They are talking about debating it again here because of stupid e-petitions, but I don't think that legally they even CAN bring it back here because of signing up to the EU's human rights agreements. Hopefully anyway.
I hope the killers of those boys and also of Jill Dando will be found one day. It seems quite likely in the West Memphis case that it was the stepfather of one of the boys, at least there actually is evidence linking him whereas there wasn't for the Three.
Anyway, here is Damien Echols free :D
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iddewes

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