This action might not be possible to undo. Are you sure you want to continue?
Running Head: DOES POLITICS AND THE MEDIA INFLUENCE CRIMINAL JUSTICE
Reyte On Publishing Copyright May 2009. All Rights Reserved.
Is the media a real cause of violence and crime, or do they simply report what they see. Is it wise to involve the media in fighting crime or should they not be allowed to report live criminal activity. How much of an affect does the media and public opinion have in shaping our criminal justice system. Do politics, discrimination, and the criminal justice system have anything in common. In this discussion, the attempt to discern how the media and the public view crime and its affect on the criminal justice system will be explored. A case where discrimination may factor into politics will also be analyzed in crime control policies being legislated by our federal and state governments. The Senate Committee of the Judiciary has conducted several studies relating to violence and youth in the U.S. The following information is taken from their report. Nearly 90% of American homes have two or more televisions with half of the homes youth having a television in their bedrooms. 89% of American homes have access to video games and or a computer. It is also reported that young people spend countless hours listening to music full of profanity and degrading remarks about parents, women, and relationships. The actual number of hours from junior high through high school is close to 11,000 hours. Once our young people reach the age of 18 the amount of murderous entertainment reaches over 15,000 individual acts of murder, rape, or torture. Add to this another 200,000 total violent dramatizations. The words that are constantly played in young people’s music are more and more inappropriate and vulgar. The majority of the music glorifies illicit sexual behavior, illegal drug use or abuse and brutality toward women.
Those that listen to the acid rock are targeted and categorized by psychologists and psychiatrists alike to be prone to alienating themselves from society. These young people are most often drug users. The music tends to again rave about all of the immoral acts that can destroy family, relationships, and the physical health. Often extensive listening to this music puts some at risk for suicide, deviant sexual behavior and even mental disorders. The video games that have explicit violence can have the same effect on young people that the “R” rated movies or television violence is known for. The aggressive content in some video games teach young people to enjoy murderous acts and other violent behaviors. As they continue to play the violent games they get pleasure from. One expert comments that "We're not showing children how to murder people, we're enticing them step by step with instructions on how to increase the level of violence they can enjoy” (Jamieson, 2009). Our young people are bombarded with violence from many of our media channels television, the Internet, video games, Music, and movies. There are thousands of porno and violent websites accessible to most homes on a daily basis. At least 1,000 of these are reported to contain innate hatred, prejudice, racism, and extreme violence. There have been 1,000s of studies done reports the committee by many federal, state, and private agencies and organizations that have shown how television and other forms of media entertainment have indirectly influenced violent incidents. Over the last 40-50 years the bulk of these studies have concluded that media violence can lead to violent behavior. There is so much evidence of this today that it is almost total insanity to ignore. Another committee member reports that “To debate is simply pointless it is like defying gravity” (Jamieson, L., 2009).
Another area that the media gets involved with is the effort to fight crime. There are a couple of media programs available that have been used to successfully stop criminal activity. CrimeStoppers and Amber Alert. Crime Stoppers is a program that is backed by the police in most communities across the U.S. The community and local law enforcement work together with the media to deter criminal activity. The program is set up with the assistance of the television media by providing a toll free phone number for any citizen to make a call to alert the authorities of any illegal or criminal activity they may witness. This call can be dialed anonymously. A code number is given to the caller reporting the incident once the details are given. The caller must keep the code in order to identify the incident and get an update. If an arrest results from the information given, the caller can give the code number to claim a reward. The reward for most cities across the country can be as much as $2,000. The money for the reward is usually provided by community businesses or local citizens. There is also a board of directors that regulate the program. The money is not taken from the local tax base (Greensboro.nc.gov, 2009). The results: Crime Stoppers was officially launched in 1981 and the media has been instrumental in assisting in the “recovery $16 million in drugs and property in Guilford County”. How it works: 1. Persons with information can call the local Crime Stoppers phone number, give their
information and get a code number that identifies the incident and the call. The caller is also given information on how to contact someone to get information on the status of the case or investigation.
The information given by the caller is forwarded to the proper policing authority to follow
up on the lead. The caller can contact Crime Stopper’s status line to get details of any progress on the case. If the case ends in an arrest, a drug bust, or recovery of stolen goods, the caller is told about their reward and how to claim it (Greensboro.nc.gov, 2009). The caller never has to provide their personal information, if they do not wish to give it. Amber Alert A young child was abducted while riding her bicycle in 1996 in the Texas area. She was just a 3rd grader. The child’s name was Amber Haggerman. A neighbor was near enough to hear the child scream as a man grabbed her off her bike and sped away with her in his truck. They contacted the police with a description. The police canvassed the area talking to neighbors in the attempt to get more information. The local media that were covering the incident. The child was deceased when they found her. However, a suggestion was made to use the media to alert people to keep alert for any information on a missing child that has been reported. The television station manager thought it was a good thing for the community and it was started in the Dallas area in 1997. The results: It has spread across the U.S. and in the Dallas area eight children that were missing have been recovered through the public service media Amber Alert program. How it works: Once someone reports a child missing the information is immediately given to the local news to post on radio and flash on the television as an emergency public service announcement.
The information is also posted on electronic signs on many highways as well. So that motorists can be on the alert for any vehicle or person that meets the description. The Alert remains active until the child is found (AmberAlertmi.org, 2009). The media is also quite adept at hyping up incidents of police brutality. How much of an affect does the media and public opinion have in shaping our criminal justice system. Janet Reno, who was the Attorney General of the U.S. in 1999 stated: "The issue is national in scope and reaches people all across this country. For many people, particularly the minority communities, there is no trust in the effectiveness of policing, it does not exist simply because residents presume police use excessive force, that our law enforcement officers are far too aggressive, that law enforcement is prejudiced, disrespectful, and unfair." Janet Reno, Attorney General of the United States, speaking on police brutality at a National Press Club luncheon, Washington, DC, 15 April 1999. The level of abuse by the police has escalated to the point of people being afraid of the police instead of trusting them for protection against harm. There are dozens of cases that have proven the use of excessive force, verbal abuse, illegal activity, and racial profiling among a myriad of other offenses. Amnesty International has recorded several cases of unlawful activity all over the nation, some of the cases include police beating civilians, shooting them and using excessive force against suspects. Though the negligible actions are only by a small number of officers, there appears that not enough is being done to stop the brutality. It is deliberate and unjustifiable. The authorities have been slow to negligent in moving to remove the alleged offending officers from the department. Oftentimes they get minimal punitive actions for major offenses. In the documented
reports there appears to be multiple violations in certain jurisdictions across the country. A great deal of the mistreatment is aimed at minorities of other races and ethnic groups many are arrested under false pretenses, harassed and physically and verbally abused. Police brutality is at the head of issues facing our society in recent years. There have been a flurry of very “high profile cases, including the fatal shooting of an unarmed West African immigrant, Amadou Diallo, in New York City in February 1999”, for example. In this case there were four officers who were white searching for a suspect accused of rape. The officers shot at a man 41 times while he was standing in the foyer of an apartment building. The man Diallo, was hit 19 times by their bullets, the victim was not the alleged offender. This instance is indicative of how many of such cases have occurred. Diallo was a black male and was killed for this reason alone (Amnestyusa.org, 2007). Amnesty International, a human rights organization has implemented a campaign on human rights violations in the USA, launched in October 1998. 1. Is the death penalty is an effective deterrent against crime
Opponents of the death penalty say no because: The expense to the taxpayers for capital punishment is greater than supporting criminals for the remainder of their lives. It is uncivilized and breaches the "cruel and unusual" phrase from the U.S. Constitution’s the Bill of Rights. It is not reflecting the correct message to citizens to stop criminal activity by killing the offender.
To sentence the offender to life imprisonment is an adequate punishment, it is also a deterrent. The jury is affected in their decision based on knowing in advance that the person could be given capital punishment. It is quite probable that some innocent people will be sentenced to die. The crime of the offenders is diminished by creating sympathy for the “perpetrators of the crimes” (BalancePolitics.org, 2009). Proponents of the death penalty say yes because: “The death penalty gives closure to the victim's families who have suffered so much”(. It is a deterrant to criminal activity. It is just or fair punishment. (A tooth for tooth or eye for eye.) It appears the system of justice is too sympathetic to the criminal, making the victim twice a victim. “DNA testing and other methods of modern crime scene science can now effectively eliminate almost all uncertainty as to a person's guilt or innocence” (BalancedPolitics.org, 2009). Some convicted murderers and other violent criminals could be paroled or escape prison and return to their criminal activity. Politics, Discrimination and the Criminal Justice System An area of politics that is now brewing in the criminal justice system is discrimination against minorities. It appears to some the answer is yes. There are many documented cases of unfair treatment of minorities that infiltrate each phase of our criminal justice system. From racial
profiling, buy and bust deals that target minority communities Blacks and Latinos are at times victimized. The number of drug offenders by black men are over thirteen times the rate of white men. The Human Rights Watch has discovered that drug use is the same among all racial groups. However, Blacks and Latino peoples are arrested and given the maximum sentences at thirteen tiems the rate for white men. The issues of racial inequality are personified when whites are given a different sentence based on the type of cocaine they use versus the type blacks, Latinos,, and other minorities. Whites tend to abuse powder cocaine while the other minorities use the cocaine in the crack form. For the offenders accused of illegal powder cocaine use, there is a 100 to 1 disparity between the prison sentence. According to scientist and other experts the cocaine susbstance being abused is exactly the same. Yet the percentage of persons convicted of crack cocaine use were 90% black, 6 percent Latino, and under 4% white. While those sentenced for powder cocaine were 30% black, 43% Latino, and 26% white (Drugpolicy.org, 1997). America drug policies have a history of racial discrimination against minorities. This accounts for disproportionate number of minorities in jails. The result has led to cycles of criminal incarceration among Black and Latinos that have demoralized and discontented generations of our citizens. The policies have attempted to weaken the social structures of family within the urban communities. This has led to voting for more prisons by community citizens in the attempt to protect themselves. However municipal authority desiring the revenues that prison construction manipulates the citizens can bring to the community. It does produce jobs and revenue. The voters are told that more prisons are needed and buy in to the system. To keep the prisons going they must have residents, therefore, more arrests are made. Who is the target Blacks and Latino men. According to drugpolicy.org “politically weakened by laws that
disenfranchise voters for felony convictions and provide economic incentives for rural communities to embrace prisons as a form of economic development” (Drugpolicy.org, 1997).
References AmberAlertMi.org. (2009). Amber Alert. Retrieved July 7, 2010 from http://www.amberalertmichigan.org/history.php AmnestyUSA.org. (2007). Race Rights and Police Brutality. Retrieved July 7, 2010 from http://www.amnestyusa.org/document.php? id=133746465C2D34CA8025690000692D98&lang=e BalancedPolitics.org. (2009). Should the Death Penalty be Banned as a Form of Punishment. Retrieved July 7, 2010 from http://www.balancedpolitics.org/death_penalty.htm DrugPolicy.org. (1997). Race and the Criminal Justice System. Retrieved July 7, 2010 from http://www.drugpolicy.org/communities/race/criminaljust/ Greensboro-nc.gov. (2009). Crime Stoppers: The Program. Retrieved July 7, 2010 from http://www.greensboro-nc.gov/Departments/Police/Citizens/crimestoppers.htm Jamieson, L. (2009). Children Violence and the Media. Retrieved July 7, 2010 from http://www.indiana.edu/~cspc/ressenate.htm U.S.Constitution.net. (2009). Powers Prohibited of States. Retrieved July 7, 2010 from http://www.usconstitution.net/const.html