Mara Leveritt passes along information about a new change.org petition drive asking Arkansas Gov. Mike Beebe to pardon Jessie Misskelley, Damien Echols and Jason Baldwin before his term as governor comes to an end. The text of the petition:
Governor Mike Beebe,
We respectfully ask you to pardon Damien Echols, Jason Baldwin and Jessie Misskelley – collectively known as the West Memphis Three.
The state of Arkansas took 18 years of the lives of these three young men. And while you can’t give those years back, you can give them their future.
It will demonstrate uncommon political courage.
It will show that you are the kind of man we believe you to be.
It will cost you nothing.
We join in this appeal because the WM3 convictions were a travesty of justice, and the Alford Plea deal that released them was a sham.
Even the prosecutors recognized that conviction in a retrial was unlikely. The evidence would have exonerated them.
We understand the politics of the situation, and we understand the liability issues that the state was facing. But those did not produce justice.
You know it. We know it. Everyone knows it.
Remove this stain of injustice from our state, as Governor Bill Clinton did in 1997 when he acknowledged the injustice visited upon the Little Rock Nine during the Central High Crisis.
Do the right thing. Pardon the WM3.
We The People.
Started by Little Rock designer Patrick Houston, the petition currently has 756 signatures.
“The petition has also provoked debate among supporters, some of whom are indignant at the idea of seeking pardon for a wrongful conviction,” Leveritt writes. “I share that view. On the other hand, no one in Arkansas government has yet even acknowledged what most of the world has come to realize: that the West Memphis case hangs on as a 20-year travesty.”
After a WM3 supporter asked Leveritt about Jason Baldwin’s reaction to the petition drive, she reached out to him. His reply:
“I want what all of us have wanted: someone with the authority to do so to reopen the case and declare once and for all that the murders of Michael Moore, Christopher Byers and Steve Branch remain unsolved; to acknowledge that Damien Echols, Jessie Lloyd Misskelley Jr. and Charles Jason Baldwin have suffered a grave injustice, as we all have; and to grant remedy.”