Mara Leveritt is a journalist and author who wrote the book Devil’s Knot, which was subsequently made into an award winning movie. The book chronicles the case of the West Memphis Three, in which three young men were wrongfully convicted of the gruesome 1993 multiple murder of three eight year old boys. See previous WCB posts on the West Memphis Three here and here and here.
In 2007, DNA and hair evidence recovered from the crime scene excluded all three of them. A deal was struck with the prosecutor whereby the three were released from prison in 2011 (after 18+ years), but only after entering an Alford plea. In an Alford plea, the defendant maintains his/her innocence, but concedes that the prosecution’s evidence would likely be enough to convince a judge or jury of guilt. (Editorial Note: In this editor’s opinion, the Alford plea is nothing more than a gimmick built into the justice system system that gives prosecutors an avenue to back out of a case while saving face. It does nothing to change the facts of the case. Just my opinion.)
Ms. Leveritt has recently taken on the responsibility of Director of the Center for Prosecutor Integrity‘s Wrongful Convictions Academy, which is brand new, and is just spinning up. She is an Arkansas native, and has also authored a recent article about prosecutorial misconduct and the attendant lack of accountability and sanctions in Arkansas – Prosecutors Have All the Power. In the article she states, “Despite documented misconduct, especially Brady violations, no prosecutor in this state has been sanctioned in the past 25 years.” While this article is Arkansas-specific, it can be applied to the situation nationwide in general.
Phil, Thank you for shining the spotlight on this issue. Time to end absolute immunity for prosecutors, then we would see a change. When the prosecutors face the same punishment they want for the accused (restore presumption of innocence), then the wrongful convictions would disappear along with the political and financial gain.
CA: Bill to help keep the innocent out of prison vetoed | Guest Columns | San Francisco | San Francisco Examiner
“Based on what he has and has not signed this year, this is a governor who seems to care more about the right of a dog to visit a restaurant than the right of an innocent defendant to a fair trial.”
CA: Jerry Brown Fails his Test | The Open File 10/01/14