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An interrogation room. The conditions are dark and cold. There is one means of escape and communication with the outside world and that access is determined by the interrogators.

Jeffrey Deskovic was a 17-year-old who was wrongly convicted of raping and murdering one of his high school classmates.  He was convicted and sent to prison for the crime he did not commit.  He was held against his will in an interrogation room for eight hours with no adult to help him other than the officer interrogating him.  He was pushed beyond his limit and, because of his abuse in the interrogation room, he was forced to admit he was guilty.  However, he was not guilty of such a crime.  My research focuses on the psychological aspect, but I believe this article is useful for many areas of research, but in particular, when dealing with communication. Communication is key to a dystopia and as shown by Jeffrey, when communication is damaged, bad things can happen.

The argument presented by the JJIE (Juvenile Justice Information Exchange) article about Deskovic and his unjust punishment is that a person undergoes severe repercussions before, during and after imprisonment.  From the beginning, Deskovic was forced to shut his mouth and only open it when he had the “right” thing to say. When imprisoned, Jeffrey, and other inmates are kept in solitary confinement while the rest of the world continues to move forward.  Almost all communication is destroyed.  This is evident in Deskovic’s case as he left prison with no idea what to do or how to do it; he was a minor when he entered prison and an adult when he left prison.  He was untrained in how to do simple tasks that adults living in the real world could perform because he was confined and disconnected for the outside world.

Inmate talking on the phone with someone on the outside world.

The article describes Jeffrey’s experiences and the conclusion is made that the conditions Jeffrey experienced were and could have been horrific if he had not had a major life change after his release (he was welcomed in by some people to help him get his life together).  The source can help anyone researching communication in dystopias because it points out how the use of violent tactics can force someone to confess or conform (another research topic) to what society or authorities want because the victim has no means to ask for help.

 

 

 

Works Cited

Williams, Brooke L. “Wrongfully Convicted Teen Finds New Challenges in Freedom.” Juvenile Justice Information Exchange, Juvenile Justice Information Exchange, 7 Dec. 2015, jjie.org/2015/05/08/wrongfully-convicted-teen-finds-new-challenges-in-freedom-as-a-man/. Accessed 27 Feb. 2017.

After sixteen years of imprisonment, Jeffrey Deskovic was finally released to the public after he was wrongly convicted and sentenced for raping and murdering a high school classmate.  He was held against his will in an interrogation room for eight hours with no adult to help him; it was him and the detective.  He was pushed beyond his limit and, because of the abuse he received, was forced to admit he was guilty.  However, he was not guilty of such a crime.  What shocked many people was his depression, anxiety and panic attacks he endured after he was released.

Jeffrey Deskovic (facing the camera) is working to liberate others who were wrongfully convicted as he was.

The focus of my research paper, Juveniles Endure Mental Trauma from Wrongfully Convicted Crimes, is to understand what happens when a teenager is wrongly convicted and punished for crimes committed by someone else.  Jeffrey Deskovic was completely innocent, but because of the lack of evidence and how quickly the judge wanted to end the case, Jeffrey Deskovic suffered a new level of distress.  After diving into the punishments and sentencing of adolescents and coming to understand how there are certain degrees of punishments, juveniles still endure psychological trauma after being wrongly convicted.  I believe anyone who endures jail time for any reason, whether rightfully or wrongfully, is confronted with serious demons in a prison.  In the case of Jeffrey Deskovic and everything he encountered, when he was released from prison, he entered a life of uncertainty and fear.  That is how many adolescents who enter jail end up if they leave.  Many juveniles do not leave because further evidence does not arise on their behalf.  However, if an adolescent is released, he or she is faced with challenges that can be just as terrifying as the ones in prison.  For example, Jeffrey Deskovic had no idea what to do with his life after his release.  He was not ready to work, get a house, pay bills or do anything of the sort because he had never done such things before.

Adolescents in prison.

In the end, Jeffrey Deskovic is just one example of the many adolescents who have endured mental pain because of someone else who was able to cover his or her tracks.  There are adolescents all over the world who are faced with challenges that many adolescents could never imagine.  Further examples, such as Katniss Everdeen in The Hunger Games and Tom in After, will be mentioned in the presentation and paper (and those examples can be found in my previous blog post).  That is why it is important that evidence be conclusive because the psychological damage that is done to an adolescent for being wrongly convicted is unbearable and savage.

Katniss Everdeen returning to the 75th Annual Hunger Games with other victors.

A common theme I have found in many YA dystopias is that the young adults involved in the novel are, at times, accused and punished for crimes they did not commit.  For example, Katniss Everdeen in the The Hunger Games is forced to endure the Games again, Octavia in The 100 is put in prison for being born, and the students at Central High in After must undergo the same strict rules as Pleasant Valley underwent, after the school shooting at Pleasant Valley. With that in mind, after reading After and hearing of the horrific conditions the students of Central High endured because of a shooting that occurred in another school fifty miles away, I began to wonder, what happens mentally to students who undergo punishment for crimes they never committed?

I know of a student who was taking a math exam at his high school, in which he was not allowed to have any notebooks or his book bag in the classroom with him during the exam.  He, without thinking, brought a notebook with him to class and laid it down a few desks away from his desk just to be safe.  During the exam, his teacher took the notebook that was laying a few desks away.  After the exam was over, the teacher took the notebook to the principal to have the principal determine what the outcome for the student would be.  The student was accused of cheating and given a zero for the exam and had to spend two hours in detention.  The student was devastated.  Anytime the subject was brought up, he would get tears in his eyes and would just confess that he messed up by having the notebook, but confessed he never cheated.

Octavia from The 100. She was punished (and her mom was floated) for being born.

The psychological aspect of treating a person inappropriately because of a crime he or she did not commit is, at times, worse than committing the crime.  Students that receive bad grades or have detention because of something that happened to them can take a negative toll on that student.  In After, Tom’s character changed as the novel goes on and as the situation at Central High continues to worsen.  In the beginning, we see that Tom is a fun, mischievous, and relaxed student who does not truly enjoy school, but endures and makes it fun with his friends, while he can.  However, as the year goes on, we begin to see a shift in Tom’s attitude.  He becomes irritated and does not enjoy being around anyone as much as he used to; he can’t stand school and eventually gets away from it all.

With all this in mind, my current assumptions about prosecution are swayed towards believing that there are negative implications that come with students who are treated wrongly for crimes they did not commit.  Moreover, with more research to come, I believe it will become more clear as to what the actual results are of students who undergo punishment for crimes they did commit, and crimes they did not commit.

Works Cited

Collins, Suzanne. The Hunger Games: Catching Fire. NY, NY, Scholastic Press, 2009.

Francine, Prose. After. New York, NY, Harper Collins Publishers, 2003.

Rothenberg, Jason, et al. “Pilot.” The 100, CW, 19 Mar. 2014.

Katniss and Peeta during the Games.

I am hoping, immediately, a person reading the title of the blog is able to envision the Seinfeld episode where the Soup Nazi came from. If not, that is okay because it is not key to understanding the rest of the blog post.  Now, Seinfeld and the Soup Nazi have nothing to do with dystopia and YA dystopian literature, but propaganda and media have everything to do with dystopian literature.  The reason I bring up the Soup Nazi is to paint the picture seen in The Hunger Games when Peeta is sent the soup by the sponsors.  Peeta is badly wounded and Katniss is able to feed him the soup that possibly saved his life.  With Katniss and Peeta being in love, the two steal the hearts of the audience, and in particular, the Capitol.  Sponsors begin helping the two by sending them resources in their time of need as Haymitch, their beloved mentor, elevates their status.  This is an example of propaganda being used to further a cause and help Peeta in his time of need.  Through the use of media, all of the country is able watch the Capitol help Mr. and Mrs. Peeta Mellark.

The reaping in District Twelve.

When looking further at the media and propaganda in The Hunger Games, the first moment we see propaganda negatively appear is during the reaping.  The reaping is a large “movie” set where the Capitol picks one male and female tribute to play in the Games; the scene is set with lights, microphones and screens, which is something only dreamed of in District 12, as it is one of the poorest Districts in all of Panem.  Those involved in the reaping must dress in their finest clothing and even bathe, something not done regularly by the Katniss Everdeen.  With the Capitol and all of the country viewing the poorest District with nice clothing and a nice “movie” set, the thought of the despair and horrific conditions experienced by District 12 is unthinkable.  No one can see the real-life conditions of the people living in District 12.  The Capitol uses the propaganda to make the District appear richer than it truly is; this is what keeps the plague of poverty in District 12.

Overall, the conclusion can be made that propaganda and the use of media is a way to positively and negatively affect a cause or campaign.  Katniss and Peeta knew how to play the game and win the hearts of the sponsors in the Capitol.  Also, the Capitol was smart in their decision to make the Districts appear better than they really were.  In the end, propaganda and media was able to persuade viewers and audiences of something that was not entirely true.

Works Cited

Collins, Suzanne. The Hunger Games. NY, NY, Scholastic Press, 2008.
Feresten, Spike. “The Soup Nazi.” Seinfeld. NBC. 2 Nov. 1995. Television.

Finding utopia.

The Greek, as seen above, can be translated (by Google Translate), “Dystopia, the opposite of a utopia. Where the future is worse than the present.”  This was the thought of many people when the use of dystopia began in the 1800s.  It was the imagination of darker times ahead versus the good times that the utopian literature focused on.

To the writer of The Cambridge Companion to Utopian Literature, dystopia can be defined as world that is “too bad to be practical” (Claeys 16).  Or at least that is what he argued John Stuart Mill believed in his speech in 1868; it was the opposite of utopia.  To understand dystopia, we need to understand utopia.  The definition Claeys presents is that a utopia “is seen as a matter of attitude, as a kind of reaction to an undesirable present and an aspiration to overcome all difficulties by the imagination of possible alternatives” (Claeys 7).  The key difference seen between a utopia and dystopia is the hope and aspiration of a better future;  Claeys believed that the root of a utopia is the energy of hope (Claeys 7).

This is the 1932 movie Freaks. It was considered a horror film because of the strangeness of the characters. We now know that each of the characters had some form of special need, but in 1932, special needs was not diagnosed.

 

Now that we know what a dystopia is, we need to dig a little deeper before we compare dystopia and horror.  The reason I included the Greek text as the title was because when dystopia is broken down into its root words, one finds that dys comes from the Greek word dus, and means “bad, abnormal, diseased” (Claeys 16).  The great thing about the Greek language is its ability to add more meaning to English words.

When thinking dystopia and its definition and what other genres are similar to it, I immediately think of horror.  My English 1101 class was focused on horror and how the abnormality found in movies and books is what creates horror.  This is directly tied to the definition of dystopia; as seen by Claeys, a dystopia can be defined as an abnormal world.  That is what a horror film or book does to the audience; the producers and authors take what a society shuns or finds weird and makes that strangeness the horrifying element of a story.  This dynamic parallel between weirdness and horror is what captivates audiences into believing that the undesirable element of the story is horrifying.

In the end, the understanding of a dystopia from its Greek lineage can help illustrate the connection between the dystopian genre and its relative, the horror genre.

 

Works Cited

Claeys, Gregory. The Cambridge companion to utopian literature. Cambridge, Cambridge                   University Press, 2010.

Freaks. Dir. Tod Browning. Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, 1932. Film. Web. 18 July 2016.