LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KTHV) -- Damien Echols was released from prison one year ago, following a unique plea deal in the case of the West Memphis Three.
In an interview with THV anchor Dawn Scott, Echols says "everything" about post-prison life feels different.
"The first two to three months out, I was in an extreme state of shock and trauma," says Echols. "This is a gradual process."
Echols, Jason Baldwin and Jessie Misskelley left behind their jail cells in August 2011 and took a step outside in the real world for the first time in eighteen years.
All three entered an Alford plea which means they pleaded guilty while still maintaining their innocence. The judge sentenced them to 18 years, the time they've already served. Now they will have 10 years probation which means if they commit any crime during the next 10 years, they could go back to prison.
Echols is preparing to release his second book, "Life After Death," September 18. His message is to encourage people "just not to waste life."
"It's a very bizarre time in life for me right now," Echols shares. "I'm still trying to get used to the world again."
Echols lives in New York City now with his wife, Lorri Davis. He has not returned to Arkansas. "I've thought about it, talked about it" but says the thought of returning is "psychologically and emotionally distressing" and says he "can't make myself face it yet."
Echols reminds that he was completely isolated and removed from society for nearly twenty years and says he still becomes anxious at simple things such as directions and social interactions.
Echols also often thinks back on his time in prison, adding that he will be "haunted by it for the rest of my life."
Echols maintains contact with Misskelley and, until recently, Baldwin. He also keeps in contact with some of the victims' family members, sharing that the family of Stevie Branch gave him a pocketwatch engraved with the date of his prison release and the words "time begins now."
He still maintains his innocence and says he is working to uncover who killed Branch, Michael Moore, and Christopher Byers back in 1993.
"This isn't over," says Echols. "We are not going to allow officials to sweep this under the rug. We will continue to fight this case as long as we have to until the right thing is done. Really that's what the rest of our lives are gonna be dedicated to until this is finally and completely resolved. This is not gonna go away."