Peter Jackson Watched 'Making A Murderer' & Was Left Disturbed By One Specific Part Of The Puzzle
The Netflix documentary that everybody's been talking about continues to inspire more people to join in the conversation. Now, director Peter Jackson has weighed in on Making a Murderer, giving his take on the concept of false confessions and how he believes could have affected Steven Avery's case. The Lord of the Rings director is not just another commenting fan: Jackson has a unique perspective on the concept of false confessions, having produced his own true crime documentary on the West Memphis Three.
In a post on his Facebook page, Jackson reveals that he and his wife, Fran, have binge-watched Making a Murderer like so many others. Among the "10 hours of riveting documentary," what stood out to Jackson and his wife the most, he writes, was Brendan Dassey's confession, which reminded them of the three subjects in West of Memphis, the documentary that they produced.
Before our West Memphis 3 experience, I found the concept of "false confessions" a little hard to believe. Most confessions are obviously not false — and why on earth would anybody implicate themselves in a murder they had nothing to do with? But take a look at what happens to Brendan Dassey in "Making a Murderer" — it's a text book example of how easily a fragile justice system can derail.
Jackson's own documentary, West of Memphis, chronicles the six years Jackson and his wife spent trying to help free the West Memphis Three, three teenagers who were tried and convicted of murdering three boys. After serving 18 years in prison, the three men were released in 2011 after new DNA evidence allowed them to enter new pleas. Like in Avery's case, many supporters believed that the West Memphis Three were innocent and called for their release, including Jackson and his wife.
In a striking parallel to the Making a Murderer situation, one of the teens, Jessie Misskelley, implicated the other two in a confession after being interrogated by police, leading to all three of their arrests. Like Dassey, Misskelley's IQ also put him at borderline intellectually impaired, and like Dassey, he also did not have a lawyer present during the interrogation. All three of the teens' lawyers maintained that Misskelley's confession was false and that he had been manipulated by the police.
In his post, Jackson notes that, from what he's learned, three factors contribute to false confessions:
- A young suspect with borderline intellectual ability.
- No attorney is present during the suspect's questioning.
- Police under pressure to achieve a result.
Jackson also mentions two lawyers whom he had worked with for his documentary, Laura Nirider and Steve Drizin from the Center on Wrongful Convictions of Youth. He writes that he is not surprised to see them appear in Making a Murderer because they've been working on Dassey's case since 2008, and have dedicated their legal careers to preventing systemic abuse from happening to teens. (The Manitowoc County officers have consistently argued that their interrogation tactics were by the book.)
Jackson urges his followers to learn more about Nirider and Drizin's work and to support their cause, because after his own experience with West of Memphis, wrongful convictions has clearly become an issue that's close to his heart. Jackson writes:
It's only by advocating for reform of the interrogation process in U.S courts and legislatures, that future vulnerable young people like Brendan and Jessie, can be protected from wrongful conviction.