For the first time ever, the White House has issued a special Decision Maker response to an online petition.
The petition in question? None other than one imploring President Barack Obama to pardon Steven Avery and Brendan Dassey, the inmates at the center of the controversial Netflix documentary “Making a Murderer.”
The petition, which was reportedly posted online on Dec. 20, has amassed hundreds of thousands of signatures. It reads:
“Steven Avery and Brendan Dassey should be given a full pardon by President Obama for their wrongful conviction in the connection to the murder of Teresa Halbach. Based on the evidence in the Netflix documentary series ‘Making a Murderer,’ the justice system embarrassingly failed both men, completely ruining their entire lives.”
In Obama’s response, the administration noted that the president cannot pardon Avery and Dassey, whom many believe were convicted under fraudulent methods by the state of Wisconsin. Obama wrote,
“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.”
The White House’s response went on to explain that though Obama does not constitutionally have the power to pardon a state offender, he has made plenty of strides throughout his stints in office to commute other criminals’ sentences in an attempt to “enhance the fairness and effectiveness of the criminal justice system at all phases and to better address the vicious cycle of poverty, criminality and incarceration that traps too many Americans and weakens too many communities.”
Want to learn more about the Steven Avery case? Investigation Discovery is partnering with NBC News’ Keith Morrison to re-examine the evidence. FRONT PAGE:THE STEVEN AVERY STORY, airing in January, will provide insight into unanswered questions from the Netflix series MAKING A MURDERER.