Praying for freedom
Hi, my name is Charles Jason Baldwin and 16 years ago I was convicted for a crime I did not commit. I was a 16-year-old boy then, today I am a 32-year-old man and next month I'll be leaving prison for the Craighead County Jail for two weeks worth of Rule 37 hearings.
Every day life offers us choices — most are mundane, like whether or not I'll take sugar in my coffee, or tuning into KSSN 96 vs. The Edge 100.3 — these are easy choices based simply on personal preference, neither right nor wrong, nor life changing, simply life affirming. When I was just 16 I was forced to make a choice the results of which wouldn't be so innocuous.
On my last day of school for the 10th grade I was taken into custody. For the next 289 days I would not be allowed to hug my mom or my little brothers. The only people I came into contact with seemed powerless to help me as I told them the truth of my innocence. To say I was under pressure would be an understatement.
One day I was offered a choice. I was told the only hope in the world I had was to turn “state” against Damien Echols and testify under oath that he murdered those three boys. The problem with this choice was the fact that I did not know who murdered those boys. For the life of me I did not believe Damien did — and even if I had a “belief” as to who could have done the murders, the simple fact remained that I did not know who committed them. Many people have found themselves in similar situations and chose a different path than the one I did, but 16 years later I do not regret my choice. The one time my choice counted for something real I made the right one — I chose to protect innocent life.
Our worldly and wise forefathers knew very well the dangers and imperfections in any justice system — even and especially ours. Innocent people can fall victim to the fell clutch of circumstance, so safeguards were put into place. Next month I pray those safeguards will perform their duty and that I'll at last be freed. Tonight I rest easy knowing that when I was confronted with the choice to protect innocent life, I made the right one.
Charles Jason Baldwin
Thanks for the clarity
Thank you, Ernest Dumas, for your clear articles on the new Arkansas lottery. These articles departed from the “yellow brick road” paved with cliches regarding education and employment and pulled back the curtain on reality.
Reading the outrage about the salaries of lottery officials has been interesting. Arkansans have yet to realize that in a few weeks, the Arkansas Lottery (the state government) will begin spending millions on advertising that encourages poor citizens to buy lottery tickets in order to send the children of people too smart to buy lottery tickets to college.
Not so slow-witted
I am one of those “slow-witted” Arkansawers who do not understand if the salaries paid to lottery director Ernie Passailaigue and his two vice presidents are in line with their jobs, but I am smart enough to know there should be some type of accountability, and incentive to properly perform their jobs. I would suggest a contract with a “reverse golden parachute” clause. Withhold 25 percent of their salary in an escrow account and if the results of the lottery meets the amount that we have led to believe will be achieved, give them that money and march on. But if not, Arkansas keeps the money and uses it to pay off the incurred debt brought on by the lottery, and show the door to the three.
Life is acres and acres of shit, worry, concern, much happiness, adventures, love, blessings, great friends, love of life and finally death.
Sometimes death is a welcome friend. One is relieved of all the horrific pain and suffering of old age, but to thousands upon thousands of young men, 65 years ago on a day called D-Day, they died, mostly horrible deaths.
Let us NEVER forget.
Beverly A. Clary