Steven Avery, the focus of Netflix’s “Making a Murderer,” may be one of the most well-known prisoners in the country. Now, as his legal battle drags on, many viewers are asking his lawyer how he’s faring in prison.
In a recent tweet, Avery’s post-conviction lawyer Kathleen Zellner shared a letter Avery wrote to her: "Most days are good unless I hear a country song playing and I feel sad for awhile, but I tell myself to go back to the good times. I read all the letters and look at the pictures and I feel better when I imagine myself being free, talking and visiting with my family and friends. I read every letter I receive."
After his conviction for the 1985 sexual assault and attempted murder of Penny Beernsten (after which he was released in 2003 because DNA evidence exonerated him) and with his current conviction for the death of photographer Teresa Halbach, Avery has spent a total of 29 years in prison. So what does he spend his days there doing?
Fighting his case
Avery has been trying to get out of prison with the help of Zellner. Through public court filings, Zellner has cited experts who claim that Halbach was not burned where her remains were found, a conclusion that the prosecution had made before the first trial. The 2017 appeal also argues that there is new evidence that proves that Avery’s DNA was planted at the crime scene.
Fantasizing about his future
In Ep. 4, he fantasizes about a future out of prison, one with his then-fiancee Lynn Hartman.
“Only Lynn’s in my mind now,” he says in the episode, adding that she was scheduled to come to visit in in a month. “She wants somebody where she can relax for the rest of her life, you know, with a good man. No arguing, no fighting, no nothing… I want somebody who is going to be there, who loves me, and will take it all the way to the end."
Seeing his family
His family still visits him behind bars. On the show, his mother and other relatives take a trip to see Avery. Although cameras are not allowed in prison, the second part of the docu-series shows various photos of Avery smiling and posing with his loved ones.
Working in the prison’s kitchen
Avery works in the kitchen of the maximum-security Waupun Correctional Institution, according to Zellner.
Brian Comiskey spent three years in a low-security federal prison in Pennsylvania (which is a different kind of prison than Avery, and located in a different state) for a 2009 armed bank robbery in Vermont, and he spoke to Oxygen.com to give insight into what prison life is like. While incarcerated, Comiskey worked in the prison’s kitchen much like Avery. Comiskey was a dishwasher.
“The cooks are a higher class of inmates,” he said. “They can get away with a lot more.”
While Comiskey said in his experience that working in the kitchen wasn’t something you had to earn through good behavior, he did call it “a hot place to be because there are so many opportunities to steal s**t.”
Comiskey said, in his guess, Avery probably works as a dishwasher.
The Wisconsin Department of Corrections declined to speak to Oxygen.com.
Receiving letters — and writing letters that have allegedly alarmed others
Avery receives plenty of mail correspondence each day. In ep. 4, titled “Welcome to Wisconsin,” a Daily Mail tabloid article was shown that claimed Avery has become a sex symbol who receives up to 40 letters from nearly-naked women a week. A reporter for that tabloid said many of these women are “lining up to be his next wife.”
Comiskey noted that inmates do spend a lot of time writing to people. He said in the federal system there is also an email system, by credit.
“Letters are a pretty precious thing,” he said. “Most of your (real life) friends stop writing letters to you pretty quick.”
Of course, not all the correspondence is good.
“The world you see in part 2 is in many ways a new world because of part 1,” co-director “Making a Murderer” Moira Demos told PEOPLE in October, explaining that that the docu-series’ subjects are receiving a lot more attention, and not all of it is good. “People are selling friendly letters for money or writing fake letters.”
“I don’t play no games where I hurt you,” he wrote, according to the report. “I will cum on the next letter, OK, honey?”
He also allegedly asked the woman if she likes his penis.
Although it’s unclear if Avery is guilty of writing that kind of sexually harassing letter, he’s certainly spoken before on the show about writing letters to people while in jail. And that’s not the only letter-related accusation thrown at him: Lynn Hartman, Avery’s now ex, claimed that "after appearing on the Dr. Phil show last year, I received threatening calls and letters from Steven Avery,” which she wrote in a statement obtained by Bustle.
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