Michael Wickson (2L)

While we eagerly anticipate the release of the second season of Stranger Things (and/or Riverdale, whatever you’re into), Netflix recently released a pair of documentaries that could easily pass as educational. The first series is called Time: The Kalief Browder Story, a horrific story of a young African-American who was incarcerated for three years awaiting trial before the charges were completely dropped. The second is a documentary series called The Confession Tapes where each episode analyzes a different criminal case that hinged upon a confession. Although both series focus on American cases, lessons can be drawn from the content that would be applicable in Canada and are worth the time to watch them.

Time: The Kalief Browder Story is a six part mini-series that chronicles the experience of one individual through the systemic failures of the New York criminal justice system. One night as he was walking home from a party, Kalief Browder was arrested under suspicion of stealing a backpack. The 16 year old knew nothing of the alleged crime and was told he would likely be released within a few hours. What followed was a comedy of errors that was anything but funny. It began with the police laying a flimsy charge with little evidence, bail being set too high to secure his release, endless adjournments by the prosecution, public defenders failing to fight for his rights, judges who let this continue despite dozens of court appearances, and finally the inhumane treatment he received on Rikers Island. For over three years Kalief was held in custody awaiting trial, much of which was spent in solitary confinement. This mini-series explores the injustices that are far too common.

The Confession Tapes is a series of documentary-style explorations into criminal cases where confessions were used to convict the alleged perpetrators and the investigative methods used to extract those confessions. During the seven episodes, six criminal cases are examined to show the dangers of false confessions that are rampant within the criminal justice system. The individual tales are haunting and demonstrate how the police can manipulate someone who has landed in their crosshairs. This series feels much more educational than Time: The Kalief Browder Story, but focuses on the criminal investigations instead of the accompanying social aspects of society and is heavily slanted in favour of the convicted. The series would be of interest to anyone pursuing criminal law.

As it is still early in the term, there is still plenty of time to watch these educational series before starting to really study. Now if only they would release a series about contract law.