James Bevel

Should Death Automatically Wipe the Legal Slate Clean?
September 11, 2009

How many of you knew that, if a convicted felon dies while his (or her) case is pending appeal, standard operating procedure is for the person's record to be expunged? Somehow I missed this legal practice, known as abatement, until it received fresh attention this month with the death of a 71-year-old Virignia man serving time for incest. The first WaPo piece on the subject was written with the assumption that, following his December death from pancreatic cancer, James Bevel's case would be dismissed in accordance with years of federal precedent.

"What Shall Become of His Dreams?"
January 01, 1970

This piece was originally published on August 24, 1968. William Faulkner located Mulberry Street so precisely and described its major industry so vividly in one of his early novels that lustful visitors from the rural mid-South memorized the passage and used it as their guide to the rows of dingy houses where three-dollar whores did business until the military authorities forced the city to clean up the neighborhood during World War II. Before virtue was imposed, white customers had access to white girls and black girls-in different houses, of course.