Brendan Dassey: Another face of the disproportionate number of intellectual/developmentally delayed youth within the justice system
If you haven’t seen the Netflix original series, “Making a Murderer,” you might be feeling a bit behind at the water cooler. The series had 19 million viewers in its first 35 days, making it one of the most popular documentaries in recent times. The series follows the Avery family through the wrongful conviction of Steven Avery in 1985 (a charge from which he was exonerated in 2003) to present day. Avery is currently serving a life sentence for the 2005 murder of photographer Teresa Halbach. Public opinion varies greatly about his guilt or innocence related to the most recent conviction, although nearly 100,000 people have signed a petition calling for President Obama to grant him a full pardon. While it was difficult for me to draw a conclusion about Avery’s guilt, I am haunted by the treatment of his 16-year-old nephew, Brendan Dassey, accused of being an accomplice in the murder.