CELEBRATING OUR FIRST YEAR BLOGGING

One year ago this blog wrote the first of many articles on the Elkhart 4 . . . Jose, Blake, Levi and Anthony. Back a year ago the Elkhart 4 had been convicted and they were awaiting their sentence. Elkhart County Prosecutor Curtis Hill had won the big case and probably believed that the case and the local media interest was close to an end. The Elkhart media had covered another crime story without really questioning what had happened in the court. After reading the story in the Elkhart Truth we felt someone had to stand up and say that what had happened to these boys was wrong. We published our first story examining how much it would cost to sent Jose, Blake, Levi and Antony to prison for decades.

In the months that followed we wrote more articles exploring many of the issues raised by the case. We especially focused on the issues that were ignored by the Elkhart press in their coverage. We focused on the juvenile issue . . . we highlighted other states that dealt with similar incidents differently and we examined the felony murder law.

Once sentenced to decades in prison many in Elkhart believed that the case and the boys would disappear into the void of the Indiana Department of Corrections, but that did not happen. We continued to write and the story of the Elkhart 4 went from a local crime story to a national and international story. Once the coverage left the Elkhart press the narrative began to change . . . a new consensus in the press began to emerge that a big injustice had happened in Elkhart County Indiana.

First the Huffington Post wrote an article condemning what happened to the Elkhart 4. This was followed when the National Post of Canada published and article on the boys and brought the story to an international audience.

In January 2014 Dr. Phil dedicated an entire hour to the case and he concluded by condemning the sentence of these boys. In the Dr. Phil episode we learned that members of the jury were very uncomfortable with the fact that they were forced to ignore the ages of these boys during their deliberations.  We also learned that media legal expert Sunny Hostin — got it wrong.

Then the appeals began. National organizations supporting fair justice for juveniles dedicated the time of some of the nations finest appeal lawyers to advocate for these boys. The state responded with a poorly written brief full or careless errors and spelling mistakes. Indiana’s brief even wrote Levi Spark’s name wrong in the opening paragraph.

ABC news picked up the story in July in an episode of Nightline. This was followed by a documentary shown on ITV in the UK, which continued the international coverage. The UK newspaper The Guardian called the story of Blake Layman an “outrage” and a sign of “America’s broken justice system.”

The coverage continues . . . A film crew from Smoke and Apple Productions is currently making a documentary featuring the Elkhart 4 and successfully raised $40 000 to help with the production.   More and more members of the press are becoming interested in covering this injustice.

This blog is proud to have played a role in exposing this injustice to the world. We are committed to continuing to work to change the system and allow these boys to re-build their shattered lives . . .outside of prison. We are proud that we have welcomed hundreds of thousands of individuals from over 140 countries to our site. We can’t name all the countries because the list is so long but we have had visitors from the US, Canada, UK, NZ, Australia, Netherlands, Norway, Ireland, Finland, Germany, Chile, Argentina, South Africa, Thailand and many more places.

We have had e-mails and posts from Elkhart, New York, San Francisco, Berlin, Amsterdam and London and all over the US and world expressing support and encouraging us to continue.

The blog is committed to continuing the fight. We can say with confidence that even though we have never met the families they are also committed to continuing the fight.

A recent reader, Tom, reminded us of a phrase written on the Berlin Wall, which said,

“Many small people, in many small places, do many small things, that can alter the face of the world.”

That quote inspires us.  Change is what we want to achieve . . . we want to change what has happened to Blake, Levi, Jose and Anthony and force the Indiana justice system t

The great Nelson Mandela said

“There can be no keener revelation of a society’s soul than the way in which it treats its children.”

We will never forget these powerful words as we continue to expose the unjust way the Elkhart and Indiana justice systems have dealt with Anthony, Levi, Jose and Blake . . . THE ELKHART 4!!!!

FREE THE ELKHART 4

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