Once known as Houdini for his multiple and improbable jailbreaks, Mark DeFriest was condemned to Florida's toughest prison after a lone psychiatrist declared he was faking mental illness. When that doctor reaches out 30 years later, DeFriest finds an unlikely ally willing to examine his infamous past and offer new insights to the Parole Commission.Written by
Mark DeFriest began his tenure as a prisoner because he took tools his father said he could have before probate had dealt with his father's will. That he was arrested for this, due to a complaint by his stepmother, is just tragic. It reveals a criminal justice system that is unable to deal compassionately with the minor mistakes and misunderstandings of ordinary people, most who are unfamiliar and inexperienced with laws and legal processes. Not every mistake needs to addressed with prison time. In this case, a judge might have asked DeFriest to return the tools or pay for them...whatever. But sentencing a young guy to prison, convicting him of a felony, over taking his dead dad's tools speaks volumes about what's wrong with the criminal justice system in the U.S.
My other observation deals with DeFriest's mental status. While he's no lunatic, he's clearly different and prison has just damaged his psyche even more. A smart guy, childlike really, he got bored in prison and did things to alleviate that boredom--like invent contraptions to break out. Clearly he lacked the upbringing and the nature to behave normally and was never destined to lead a typical life. Solitary confinement for 25 years is hardly an appropriate remedy for his personality aberrations...or for anyone, really. There was, however, an opportunity to divert his intellect toward productive output, which would be rehabilitation, but our criminal justice system has turned into a torture chamber and away from helping people rehabilitate o adapt for productive living.
This doc is cleverly done. The animated parts underscore the childlike behavior of DeFriest, a kid in an adult body. It's also shocking and demonstrates why people flee the police who feel that prison and execution are solutions for almost everything.
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