“I was taken into a broom closet filled with cleaning supplies, and was handed a stack of papers while two cops stood staring at me. My brain was so numb I could comprehend only about one-fifth of what I was reading, but at least now I knew who had made the confession. The name written at the top was ‘Jessie Misskelley.’ My first thought was, Did he really do it? Followed quickly by, Why did he say I did it? Even in my shell-shocked state I could tell something about his ‘confession’ wasn’t right. For one thing, every line seemed to contradict the one before it. Any idiot could plainly see he was just agreeing with everything the cops said. That’s when I knew why the judge didn’t want to read it our loud. Anyone with even an average IQ could see it was a setup. The whole thing seemed shady.
“It’s no great wonder to me how the cops could make Jessie say the things they wanted him to say. If they treated him anything like they did me, then it’s quite amazing that he didn’t have a nervous breakdown. They used both physical and psychological torture to break me down. One minute they’d threaten to kill you, and the next they’d behave as if they were your best friends in the world, and that everything they were doing was for your own good. They shoved me into walls, spit at me, and never let up for a moment. When one of them got tired, another came in to take his place. By the time I’d been allowed to go home after previous interrogations I’d had a migraine headache, and I’d been through periods of dry heaving and vomiting. I survived because when pushed hard enough I acted like an asshole, just like the cops themselves. My point is that we were just kids. Teenagers. And they tortured us. How could someone like Jessie, with the intellect of a child, be expected to go through that and come out whole?
“It makes me sick and fills me with disgust to think about how the public trusts these people, who are in charge of upholding the law yet torture kids and the mentally handicapped. People in this country believe the corrupted are the exception. They’re not. Anyone who has had in-depth dealings with them knows it’s the rule. I’ve been asked many times if I’m angry with Jessie for accusing me. The answer is no, because it’s not Jessie’s fault. It’s the fault of the weak and lazy ‘civil servants’ who abuse the authority placed in their hands by people who trust them. I’m angry with police who would rather torture a retarded kid than look for a murderer. I’m angry with corrupt judges and prosecutors who would ruin the lives of three innocent people in order to protect their jobs and further their own political ambitions. We were nothing but poor trailer trash to them, and they thought no one would even miss us. They thought they could take our lives and the matter would end there, all swept under the rug.” — Damien Echols, Life After Death (emphasis in original)