Understanding Social Myths

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Understanding Social Myths

In this conversation, you will explore the ways mainstream news and media outlets cover crime stories. Specifically, you will examine the ways in which these media sources create, change, or perpetuate crime myths and learn how political ideologies influence the ways in which the stories are reported.

Review the news media examples listed below. The links will take you directly to the crime or justice section of each site.
• Crime & Courts, Fox News: Retrieved from http://www.foxnews.com/us/crime/index.html
• CNN: Retrieved from http://www.cnn.com/JUSTICE/
• Huffpost Crime, Huffington Post: Retrieved from http://www.huffingtonpost.com/crime/
Next, find a story that is being covered by all three news outlets. Do the following:
• Identify the topic being covered.
• Compare and contrast the way each outlet presents the information about the story.
• Utilizing just the story from each outlet (do not include any outside information) determine what would be the best policy outcome. For this part, you should come up with three policy proposals based solely on the information presented in each article. Write each proposal in one paragraph at most.
• Explain in what ways your three proposals are similar and different and explain why.

• Read from Hancock and Sharp, Criminal Justice in America (3rd ed.)
o Chapter 25: The Social Construction of Crime Myths
o Chapter 27: A Policy Maker’s Guide to Controlling Delinquency and Crime through Family Interventions
o Chapter 28: Confronting Crime: Looking toward the Twenty-First Century

• Read from Kraska and Brent, Theorizing Criminal Justice: Eight Essential Orientations (2nd ed.)
o Article 19: Crime Control and Social Order
o Chapter 10: Conclusion

• Read the Instructor’s Note.
o Crime Myths and the Future of the Criminal Justice System

The Future of Criminal Justice Systems

As we continue through the first century, we’re continually reshaping and redeveloping the criminal justice systems. With that thought in mind, I would like to take just a moment to look at some of the new and innovative policies that have been implemented throughout the various systems. Some of these policies are very new and very young, therefore do not have much research, you have to determine on the levels of success or failure. Do they may have? But it’s interesting to examine them in light of all that we’ve learned about the individual systems and the impact that they have on each other. We begin with policing. As we talked about earlier in the course, the policy decisions regarding policing are heavily influenced by politics in the community reaction officers. Some changes that are being implemented to address the issues and concerns expressed by the community and the officers themselves involved greater communication and cooperation between the two groups. Some initiatives include involving the community [Unclear] round-up operations and placing the police headquarters at an accessible and central location within the community. On the other side, police psychologists are more aware of the potential for social isolation and working to develop strategies to curtail these issues before they began. This includes open discussion among member of the force, inclusion of the community, and officer appreciation events and alike. This new style policing is reminiscent of the early policing systems and returned to the style with early indication of success. It’ll only be through continued observation and research that we can determine that these policies are truly effective. Thankfully in the last decade or so, academics and practitioners have begun to bridge the gap. Today, there’re many officers who have advanced degrees and some with Ph.D. There is influx to the academic into the practitioner [Unclear] shape the direction of policy and [Unclear] decision making with data analysis as well as observation in political influence. This continued partnership will hopefully lead to new and improved policing styles reader interaction and success within the community and happier police force and happier community overall.

The Future of Criminal Justice Systems

We now move on to the court system, volume of cases that moves to the court system each year staggering to think about. Various solutions dealing with these cases ranged from plea bargains to [Unclear] to huge delays between arrest and trial. These delays can often lead to procedural issues and problems within the system itself. [Unclear] the court system is attempting to revitalize the functioning and operations of the court to often more streamline and effective review of cases. One example of this new style is the idea of specialized courts. These courts are designed to deal with specific issues such as family courts and drug courts. The operators of these systems are specifically trained to deal with the new ones in a particular problem. You can bring extensive expertise in the field. Additionally, these course are connected with the necessary resources within the community to assist the individuals if that is the appropriate solution. Instead of assuming incarceration as the only option, in this way rehabilitation is slowly reemerging as a punishment principle, although this is far from being a dominant team. These courts often rely on combined rehabilitation [Unclear] counseling [Unclear] and incapacitation model for the [Unclear] cases. The last area to consider when thinking about the court system is the sentencing function of the courts. Well, mandatory sentencing guidelines don’t exist at the federal level. In many states, they have come under critical review in recent years. This stands practically from the extraordinary increase in the present population, but also from the concerned amount of the public about the [Unclear] of this system to truly create a fair sentencing scheme. As recently as 2010, the legislature made considerable changes to the guidelines including controversial reduction in the minimum sentence for 1 gram of crack cocaine to closer to the sentence for powder cocaine. Changes in this area, though, are less likely to come from the courts themselves than from the legislatures. Those changes often take considerable amounts of time. Similarly juvenile courts continue to drive an alternative to adult courts for offenders under the age of 18. However, the waiver policy, which allows the judge to move the case to adult courts, has grown considerably. There is strong concern from the public that youthful offenders are not being prosecuted fully for serious crimes, therefore younger and younger juveniles are being moved into the traditional courts, I think, moved to the juvenile court. Again these are somewhat legislative issues, but these are mainly court mandated changes. They will move the juvenile into the adult system. Changes are happening at the court level. They’re moving in a number of different directions. It’ll be interesting to see how extensive the juvenile court system remains in another 10 or 15 years.

The Future of Criminal Justice Systems

Finally, we turn our attention to the correction systems. As noted early on the course, incarceration has been the primary form of punishment utilized in the US criminal justice system. The increase in the prison population over the last 30 years is unprecedented and somewhat argued is not reflecting increase in the criminal population, but instead the change in policy direction. Either way, the fact remains that prisons exist in every state and in each state, the prisons are drastically overcrowded. There’re several new initiatives as states have developed to deal with this overcrowding and we’ll look at just a few. However, some states are choosing to decrease the number of people they have incapacitated in prison settings. Very recently Californian courts and legislatures determined the California must reduce its present population by 30,000 inmates over the next 3 years. This policy initiative is based purely on economical issues, but nonetheless we’ll require California to determine he should be released when and under what conditions. Interestingly, the first round of individuals to be released or the drug offenders who were incarcerated to the mandatory sentencing guidelines. The question becomes what happened to the guidelines if the prisons are unable to accommodate the [Unclear] incarceration mandated. Secondly, there has been more likely continued to be an increase in the use of community corrections or community supervision. This type of corrections focuses primarily on the use of probation and parole in lieu of prison sentence or continued prison sentence. The goal of this system is to reintegrate the offender back into the community while also making sure that they’re being supervised by correctional professional. Finally perhaps of most importance is the increased use of technology. As technology booms, it will continue to be utilized than a criminal justice system. One of the ways in which it has impacted corrections as to the use of monitoring and tracking, for example individuals who are in house arrest or have limited area in which they can go often updated with an ankle monitor. This monitor logs where they are and notifies authorities immediately. The individual moves beyond the designated range. Beyond the ankle monitors, computers, phones and cars are all employed to track and monitor the movement and actions of offenders in the community. Impact of the dehumanization automation of a correction system has yet to be seen. However, you can imagine researches [Unclear] we can speculate about the implication.

Perpetuation of Crime Myths

In this module, you read about the perception of crime myths along with thoughts about how to change the direction in the influence of these myths. Again we see how the influence of political agendas, media spotlights altered the perception of the reality of the crime problem. In particular, the media [Unclear] if it believes the lead, reaffirm the commitment of the media system to exposing, some would argue overexposing individuals to crime, television shows like cops in big car set out to convince the pubic of the ramping dangerous nature of the criminal elements. Furthermore television networks such as [Unclear] TV are programmed entirely 24-hour access to cases and analysis at any hour of the day. The huge serge in criminal justice related television both in the versions of reality and fiction have served to perpetuate a false idea, the violent crime is excessive, pervasive and happening every minute of the day. In this way, the media truly serves as a contributor to the public’s fear and likely misperception about the reality of crime and the likelihood of becoming a victim. Along those lines of political system does little to curtail the media’s portrayal of the crime problem, instead it is beneficial in some cases for politicians to use the fear of crime as a campaign issue. This continues to be a strong and solid appeal even though the crime rate has been dropping steadily since the 1990s.

What are the alternatives? In the article by [Unclear], he suggested that we moved toward the human ecological system that addresses the individual offender, but also addresses the broader social and environmental issues that influence engagement in criminal behavior. This type of system would require a society to stop looking at offender system for others, but it’s started to recognize that offenders are part of a society and more likely become part of the society again once released from prison. It would require social investment and intervention and rehabilitation at every level, not incarceration or the guilty. This is [Unclear] society which is currently bearing very entrenched in the law and order saved mind. However, as noted above, the systems are beginning to move in that direction beginning with the frontline. The police are working to improve relations with communities, which can lead to fewer incidence of criminal behavior. This could then lead to lessening of the court cases and perhaps decrease in incarcerations. It is so far too early to tell if these initial changes will indeed have these long term impacts, but it will be interesting to see if they just make. I encourage you to continue to learn about these areas, continue to watch the systems in the policies in the decision making, the passionating area of study and which impacts all of us everyday.

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