The new Netflix documentary series Making a Murderer has captivated the nation, with hordes of citizens now trying to get Steven Avery and Brendan Dassey released from prison. Just two days after the series debuted on December 18, a petition was formed on the WhiteHouse.gov website, asking President Barack Obama to issue a Presidential pardon for Steven Avery. Earlier today, the White House issued an official response to the petition, revealing that he does not have the authority to grant such a pardon. Here's an excerpt from the White House's response.
"The U.S. Constitution grants the power of clemency to the President: 'The President ... shall have Power to Grant Reprieves and Pardons for Offenses against the United States.' This clemency authority empowers the President to exercise leniency towards persons who have committed federal crimes. Under the Constitution, only federal criminal convictions, such as those adjudicated in the United States District Courts, may be pardoned by the President. In addition, the President's pardon power extends to convictions adjudicated in the Superior Court of the District of Columbia and military court-martial proceedings. However, the President cannot pardon a state criminal offense. Since Steven Avery and Brendan Dassey are both state prisoners, the President cannot pardon them. A pardon in this case would need to be issued at the state level by the appropriate authorities."
President Obama's White House's policy is to respond to any petition on the WhiteHouse.gov website that has more than 100,000 signatures. The Steven Avery petition has amassed over 129,000 signatures since it was launched on December 20. Both Steven Avery and Brendan Dassey were found guilty in 2007 for the 2005 murder of photographer Theresa Halbech, and they are both currently serving life sentences.
Making a Murderer, a 10-episode TV series, was filmed over a 10-year period, covering this case from the beginning. Before he was convicted of murdering Theresa Halbech, Steven Avery was wrongfully convicted for a sexual assault in 1985, and he spent 18 years in prison, before new DNA evidence exonerated him and he was finally released. Making a Murderer filmmakers Laura Ricciardi and Moira Demos recently revealed that a juror in the case reached out to them and said the juror believes Avery was framed and proven not guilty.
We reported earlier today that Investigation Discovery is airing a new special later this month entitled Front Page: The Steven Avery Special. The special will provide viewers with critical details surrounding the case, to better inform viewers in light of the nearly 300,000 people calling for the release of Avery. What do you think about these new details? Do you think Steven Avery will ever find justice?