UNT PSYC 3530 - Critical Thought Essay #2: Review of “West Memphis Three” (3 pages)

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Critical Thought Essay #2: Review of “West Memphis Three”



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Critical Thought Essay #2: Review of “West Memphis Three”

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3
School:
University of North Texas
Course:
Psyc 3530 - Psy of Offender
Psy of Offender Documents
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Taylor Metelits Carter PSYC 3530 24 October 2014 Critical Thought Essay 2 Review of West Memphis Three In May of 1993 three eight year old boys Steve Branch Michael Moore and Christopher Byerswere reported as missing in the town of West Memphis Arkansas In 1994 three young men by the names of Damien Echols Jessie Misskelley Jr and Jason Baldwin were tried and convicted of the murder of the three missing boys Due to the highly controversial nature of this case and the events surrounding the convictions of these three men a review of the psycho legal perspective is in order This essay will address two of several issues surrounding the events that took place during this time in West Memphis Arkansas The first issue that will be discussed is the concern over Jessie Misskelley Jr s confession Based on the events that were discussed in the documentary Paradise Lost 3 Purgatory it is apparent that there is strong evidence that points towards a coerced confession the investigators that took Misskelley in for questioning kept him for over twelve hours during this period he was without legal representation or allowed access to his family and only the last forty five minutes of Misskelley s confession were recorded More specifically this could potentially constitute means for being classified as a compliant false confession or an internalized false confession due to the IQ level of Misskelley and the threatening nature of an interrogation on a seventeen year old boy According to classroom notes and discussion it is known that officers frequently use tactics such as softening up the suspect and using psychological persuasion Based on this concept it is fair to assume that due to the heat of police officer questioning combined with the exhausting amount of time spent in an interrogating room that Misskelley couldn t have been able to withstand the regular practices of the police Additionally Misskelley s IQ is that of 72 points concluding that there must have been a very frightened simple minded young man being questioned by investigators whose job is to manipulate suspects into sharing details about various crimes This poses a very important problem to the conviction of Jessie Misskelley Jr as part of the West Memphis Three if the police coerced a confession out of Misskelley then two things can be concluded if Misskelley made a false confession then the real murderer s are not caught and based on the behavior of the police with one of the three young men convicted how can one not question the methods used in regards to the handling of Damien Echols and Jason Baldwin The second issue is that of the pretrial publicity also referred to as PTP This is notable in regards to this particular case because in a small community hidden in West Memphis Arkansas the horrendous trauma to the murder victims was very shocking and also unheard of As soon as the boys were realized missing a community wide effort was made to be involved in the discovery of the murder victims and conviction of the murderers In addition due to the extremely vulgar and sensitive manner of the crime the West Memphis Police Department was under a great amount of pressure to quickly and efficiently locate the suspect s and acquire confessions Therefore in an effort to aid in a concluding effort a local newspaper obtained reports from the police department that the suspect that they were looking for was assumed to be involved in cult activity due to the brutal nature of the murders The term that was specifically used was satanic ritual abuse The newspaper then reported over the course of several articles details of the case that wouldn t be known to anyone unless he or she was either involved in the crime or an affiliate of the West Memphis Police Department This created an unforeseen problem for the prospective jurors it is fair to assume that because of the scary features of the crime and the young age of the victims that almost everyone in the community of West Memphis had built up either consciously or unconsciously a sense of dislike towards the defendants Damien Jessie and Jason as well as pretrial sentiments regarding the guilt of the young men This is dangerous because the courtroom is relied on as being a very objective and safe place to investigate the mysteries of various wrong doings in our society The moment the newspaper made an agenda of consistently reporting on the details of the crime it unknowingly elicited a judgment from its audience in regards to the question of innocent or guilt of Damien Jessie and Jason In conclusion there are always opportunities for law enforcement and the community to act on to make the legal processes that are used in our country more safe in terms of objectivity Because of the aforementioned issues surrounding the case of the West Memphis Three it is hard to say if the truth will ever be surfaced One can hope that with the consistent review and academic study of the past one day the American justice system can be genuinely held to an impeccable standard


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