Thousands of viewers of Netflix's latest documentary series Making a Murderer have signed two petitions calling for a presidential pardon for Steven Avery, who is serving a life sentence for a 2005 murder. Over 130,000 people have signed a Change.org petition and more than 18,000 have signed a White House petition asking for Avery and his nephew Brendan Dassey to be pardoned.
Making a Murderer, a 10-part series released on 18 December 2015, takes a look at Avery's life in the justice system in Wisconsin. Avery was released from prison in 2003 after DNA evidence cleared him of rape charges that led to 18 years in prison. While reviewers have noted that the series, similar in nature to NPR's Serial podcast and HBO's The Jinx, has pushed viewers to see Avery as innocent, prosecutor Ken Kratz says it leaves out crucial information proving his guilt.
The Change.org petition, which at time of publishing had 139,137 supporters called for Avery to be exonerated of the murder of Teresa Halbach. "Avery's unconstitutional mistreatment at the hands of corrupt local law enforcement is completely unacceptable and is an abomination of due process," the petition's creator Michael Seyedian wrote. "Steven Avery should be exonerated at once by presidential pardon, and the Manitowoc County officials complicit in his two false imprisonments should be held accountable to the highest extent of the US criminal and civil justice systems."
The We the People petition, on the other hand, not only calls for a pardon of Steven Avery but of his nephew Brendan Dassey as well. "Based on the evidence in the Netflix documentary series 'Making a Murderer', the justice system embarrassingly failed both men, completely ruining their entire lives," the petition reads. It goes on to accuse the Manitowoc County sheriff's department of "improper methods to convict" both men.
"This is a black mark on the justice system as a whole, and should be recognised as such, while also giving these men the ability to live as normal a life as possible," the petition states. The Obama Administration will be forced to respond to the White House petition if it reaches 100,000 signatures. At the time of publishing the We the People petition had a total of 18,904 signatures.