Over the years, America has become known for its strong views of justice by giving every person the right to prove their innocence whenever they’re accused of being guilty. However, in recent years, the media has shed some light on the fact that the justice system has begun to aid in incompetent law officials. Most Americans watch the news where various stories of cases are shown while others watch shows pertaining to the law and the legal system and giving examples of cases and convictions that happen everyday in the country. It’s clear that we are exposed to how the judicial and law system works, but we rarely receive insight on both sides of a trial. Sometimes, the media accommodates their information so that the public can get a taste of what they want rather than what they need to know. Nonetheless, thanks to the modern day streaming media such as Netflix, society has been given the opportunity to learn more about the unfairness that often times happens in a person’s trial.
In December of 2015, Netflix released a ten-episode documentary called “Making A Murderer” regarding the story of Wisconsin man, Steven Avery who was convicted in 1985 and in 2005 of sexual assault and murder.
Back in 1985, Avery was accused of sexual assault against Penny Beernsten. Despite having various alibis, Avery was convicted and spent 18 years in prison due to the incompetence of police officers and investigators in his case. In 2003, he was exonerated with the help of the Innocence Project, an organization in charge of exonerating wrongfully convicted people, when they discovered that his DNA didn’t match the DNA found on Beernsten at the time of the assault.
All throughout his first trial, viewers are shown clear evidence that testifies of his innocence, but still see him get wrongfully convicted and imprisoned for the lack of care and importance for a person that has had previous troubles with the law.
Nonetheless, his freedom didn’t last long, two years after his release, now 2005, he was once again accused. This time for the murder of Wisconsin photographer, Teresa Halbach after she was last seen on Avery’s property
Once again, viewers are shown evidence of his potential innocence, however this time around, the viewer is left unsure if he is innocent or not because just as much evidence that supports him, also counteracts him.
This Netflix documentary was made after filmmakers Laura Ricciardi and Moira Demos read an article about Avery’s exoneration in 2003 and incarceration in 2005. Upon further investigation, they decided to create a documentary that would bring to light the corruption that was found in the legal system.
The series was well received by critics and viewers, with most stating its well-crafted documentary format to tell a mystery. Indeed, Avery’s story is quite intricate and difficult to understand if you were to read it in a newspaper, but once displayed on screen and formatted to a style most everyone is used to, the corruption and injustice becomes clear.
Now, most teenagers don’t enjoy watching documentaries like adults do because documentaries have a stigma of being boring- while some may be- “Making A Murderer” is as interesting as it sounds. It’s a mystery revolving around a murder which to this day has yet to be solved.
In addition to Avery’s story, the documentary also includes the trial and conviction of his nephew, Brendan Dassey, who was accused of being an accomplice in Halbach’s murder. Unlike his uncle, Dassey isn’t as mentally capable as his uncle and the investigators against his trial know it and use it to their benefit.
It sounds horrible, but it’s even worse when you see it for yourself. The corruption displayed by Wisconsin officials involved in Avery and Dassey’s trials has a way of angering everyone who views the documentary. The series is a definite rollercoaster of emotions because you’ll be stressed as well as relieved at the exposure of injustice and incompetence of the legal system all throughout the show. It’s going to be incomprehensible as you’ll want to hulk-smash everything around as you watch the series progress. It will honestly anger you the amount of unfairness revolved around one man.
However, not everything seems to be as bad for Avery. It’s been publicly shared that the documentary left out key evidence against him. Some critics have also stated that the show is emotionally manipulative and one-sided. That may be true because like stated above, this show is known for making viewers upset at everyone surrounding Avery.
Even then, that doesn’t take away the fact that the public has now been presented with evidence that the legal system isn’t as just and correct as said to be.
“Making A Murderer” is a worthwhile documentary to watch, it just doesn’t seem fair that we are entertaining ourselves with the misfortune of a man. Yet, “entertainment” isn’t quite what people call it, because rather than being entertained, the public is being informed of how great and not so great the legal system really is. They are being shown the incompetence, maliciousness, and corruption that some officials unfortunately have running through their veins.