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.
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.
It’s interesting how a lot of dystopias thrive on fear. It forms the basis of control for a lot of dystopian governments and is a great way of tying people down in mental chains.
The ruling entity uses fear as a strong tool to make sure no one dares step out of line. The two most important ones while also being highly prevalent are –
- Making an example of violators
Most dystopias have some kind of punishment for breaking rules, which is different from our modern day society in that the violators are not given anything even close to a fair trial and are punished at the discretion of the rulers. Moreover, unlike our society, these rules are in no way agreed upon as ‘good’ by the people or for the better of the society. How they might be presented depends for each dystopia but they tend to revolve around the rulers’ motives to keep the people in control. Moreover, these punishments are widely publicized, making sure to carry the clear message that opposition will not be tolerated.
- Manipulation of and monopoly over information
This is a sly method for the proliferation of fear but way more effective as it is indirect. Keeping information from people, or giving them false information or making it difficult for them to procure it by banning communication, all work towards the goal of spreading ignorance. When the people making the rules are the only ones providing information, they can manipulate it to always show themselves in favorable light. This also increases the people’s dependence on them and as a result, a general fear is born out of the dread of not getting information in case the rulers are opposed or revolted against.
However, fear has its pitfalls. ‘When fear ceases to scare you, it cannot stay. When a certain line is crossed, especially in YA dystopias, to the point where the protagonist has lost so much that nothing scares them anymore, they become fearless and go all out against the people who have done this to them. Thus, fear is a weapon to be exercised with caution and control. Too much of it can tip the bowl the other way!