Brendan Dassey Still Hasn't Been Released

by Chris Tognotti

If you watched the hit Netflix documentary series Making a Murderer that came out late last year, then the names Steven Avery and Brendan Dassey probably need no introduction. Avery and Dassey were both convicted for the murder of photographer Teresa Halbach back in 2006, but the exposure from the series has fueled an ongoing movement to investigate and potentially exonerate them. And in Dassey's case it helped, with his conviction overturned back in August. And yet, things still seem uncertain ― will Dassey still be released from prison, or is he going to be stuck behind bars pending further developments?

The simple answer, for the time being, is that Dassey is stuck right where he is, inside the Columbia Correctional Institution in Portage, Wisconsin. Despite having been scheduled for release 90 days after a judge's decision to toss out his 2006 conviction, his freedom has been interrupted by an appeal on the part of the state of Wisconsin's prosecutors, who are pushing to retry him for the same crime, and secured a ruling from a federal court to keep him behind bars until that process has played out.

To say this must be incredibly disappointing to Dassey would surely be an understatement. On Tuesday, Dec. 6, his attorneys filed papers urging for Dassey to be set free pending a retrial, citing the highly controversial nature of Dassey's initial confession to participation in the murder.

No fair-minded jurist - much less any parent - can watch Brendan's interrogation video without seeing a naïve child whose already diminished ability to make rational choices is being grotesquely distorted by false promises.

As you probably remember if you watched the Netflix series, or as you might agree if you see for yourself by watching video of the confession below, Dassey ― whose mental development was well below his 16 years of age, with a borderline IQ level ― is believed by many to have delivered a false, coerced confession. The Manitowoc County Sheriff's Office has consistently maintained that they procured the confession following standard procedure.

Whether the filing bears fruit is yet to be seen, but reports suggest that the last-minute appeal by the prosecution to keep Dassey behind bars marred what would've been a decidedly joyful moment for the now 27-year-old. Having been told he'd be released, Dassey had reportedly given away most of his possessions in anticipation of getting out, only to be told he'd be held indefinitely pending a retrial, as per the federal court order.