Innocent Man Jailed for 18 Years, Learns Innocence is Overrated
March 20, 2007 1:48 AM   Subscribe

Dear America: I don't think your prison system is working.
posted by tehloki (22 comments total)

This post was deleted for the following reason: Thin, one-link news-gawkery framed as an editorial. -- cortex

How would this have turned out differently if the prison system did work?
posted by Mr. President Dr. Steve Elvis America at 2:02 AM on March 20, 2007

"Have not prisons - which kill all will and force of character in man, which enclose within their walls more vices than are met with on any other spot of the globe - always been universities of crime? ... When we ask for the abolition of the State and its organs we are always told that we dream of a society composed of men better than they are in reality. But no; a thousand times, no. All we ask is that men should not be made worse than they are, by such institutions!"
posted by stammer at 2:08 AM on March 20, 2007

I think the implication is that prison turned a previously "normal" citizen into a violent murderer, which is the opposite of what it is supposed to do.
posted by aubilenon at 2:09 AM on March 20, 2007

Sometimes bad people are wrongly convicted.
posted by Mr. President Dr. Steve Elvis America at 2:13 AM on March 20, 2007

I don't think your prison system is working.

LOL. Your favorite prison system sux.
posted by three blind mice at 2:14 AM on March 20, 2007

So we got the right guy for the wrong crime. Seems like the only mistake the prison system made was letting him out too early.
posted by stupidsexyFlanders at 2:15 AM on March 20, 2007

You're right, OP, but I don't think this is a particularly good example of it.
posted by Target Practice at 2:18 AM on March 20, 2007

his twitter stream:

1 hour ago
Made mefi FPP!

18 hours ago
shaking head

2 days ago
Missed SXSW again.

2 years ago
Killed fotographer.

4 years ago
Not my DNA! free!

22 years ago
Convicted for rape. This sux!
posted by srboisvert at 2:54 AM on March 20, 2007 [2 favorites]

Tom Cruise is in your base, reading your twitter stream.
posted by furtive at 3:27 AM on March 20, 2007

I don't think your prison system is working.
posted by Harry at 3:29 AM on March 20, 2007

Can some MeFited provide some clarification on something?

1. Convicted of rape.

2. Turns out, DNA evidence proves he didn't rape anyone.

3. "What matters is that Steven Avery is going to be in prison for rest of his life, which from the start is what we wanted," he said.

What? Is this person saying what it sounds like? I guess I'm missing something, because it seems like they still really hate this guy for raping someone, even though he didn't rape anybody.

(The preceding was not a comment on the murder trial.)
posted by Mikey-San at 3:43 AM on March 20, 2007

The person making the comment is the brother of the victim, so I'd give him the benefit of the doubt.
posted by Firas at 4:13 AM on March 20, 2007

So the state gives you $400,000 and you go off and (maybe rape with your nephew) and murder someone and use it for your defense? DUDE. Get a therapist and a hooker instead.
posted by Firas at 4:18 AM on March 20, 2007

The person making the comment is the brother of the victim, so I'd give him the benefit of the doubt.

Doubt about what? That the guy he thought raped his sister didn't? That he doesn't seem to care that whoever did rape his sister got away with it?
posted by Kirth Gerson at 4:38 AM on March 20, 2007

No, he's the brother of the murder victim. Benefit of the doubt that he's not saying he wants Avery gone because of the earlier false rape charge but because of the current murder charge.
posted by Firas at 4:42 AM on March 20, 2007

Oh, yes, I misread the story.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 4:44 AM on March 20, 2007

Well it's early and I'm off to class but my basic take here is that I feel very little sympathy for this guy.

He murdered someone and burned the body. He might have raped the person he murdered before he did so (or so confessed his nephew before recanting the confession), but the rape charge collapsed when the nephew wouldn't testify against him. Now the nephew will be put on trial for the murder as well. I'm not sure where there'll be a rape charge pressed against the nephew.

I guess there's a sympathy-cancelling-out effect. So you were wrongly convicted, held for 18 years. That makes me mad. You won $400,000 in return. That's a little bit better, but it still doesn't give you your 18 years back. Then you fucking kill somebody?

I'm the last guy who'll pretend that prisons are just 'lockaways', they're horrendous places, but I don't buy into the "prison made him a murderer" angle here. This isn't a barfight impulsively gone out of hand. He ensnared the woman he killed by asking her to come photograph a car.
posted by Firas at 4:53 AM on March 20, 2007

If Wikipedia's background on the guy is accurate, then he was a scumbag long before prison:
At age eighteen, Avery pleaded guilty to burglarizing a bar and was sentenced to ten months in prison.[1] When he was twenty, Avery and another man pleaded guilty to animal cruelty after pouring gas and oil on Avery's cat and throwing it into a fire; Avery was sentenced to prison again for that crime.[2] In 1985, Avery was charged with assaulting and flashing his cousin and possessing a firearm as a felon, and with the rape for which he was later exonerated.[3] He served six years for assaulting his cousin and illegally posessing firearms, and twelve years for the rape he did not commit.[4]
This case has little bearing on whether America's prisons are broken, which they are.
posted by hoverboards don't work on water at 5:05 AM on March 20, 2007

So what I mean is, sure it's unfortunate that he was incarcerated, and sure in terms of a deterministic series of events he might not have actually done the murder were he not incarcerated, but at some point you need to take responsibility for your actions. Contributing factors aren't absolving ones. Lots of people get psychologically fucked up by things they didn't deserve (eg. abusive parents) But that doesn't mean they're incapable of making the moral judgements required to determine that shooting someone to death might not exactly recommend you for a gold star.
“Well, you see, the story really goes back to when I was a teensy-weensy little girl.” (Woman speaks to police; she has just killed her husband.) — New Yorker cartoon by James Thurber.
(The one I was looking for has a woman at a witness stand saying something like, "It is true that my husband used to beat me because of his childhood issues. I murdered him because of mine.")
posted by Firas at 5:10 AM on March 20, 2007

Hmm. Yep, that wikipedia background really lets the air out of the story (let's just give wikipedia the benefit of the doubt on this one). I guess I overeditorialized.

Still, it looks like spending 18 years in prison was enough to jump him from burglary and cat burning to cold-blooded murder.
posted by tehloki at 5:28 AM on March 20, 2007

or (devilsadvocatefilter) being in prison prevented him from raping and murdering for 18 years...
posted by youthenrage at 5:49 AM on March 20, 2007

youthenrage - cool, so let's preemptively chuck *everybody* in prison and there'll be no more rape or murder...
posted by russm at 6:15 AM on March 20, 2007

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