Thursday, December 08, 2005

does this mean something?

Just saw an ad for a new show on ABC called In Justice. Kyle MacLachlan plays a lawyer who heads up a nonprofit organization that works to overturn wrongful convictions. His castmates are a bunch of hotties who play the "hungry young associates" out to do the right thing.

Does this show signal a change in public sentiment? Am I being too hopeful?

Probably, huh?


Anonymous said...

a change in public sentiment? tough question. let's start with some descriptives. this page shows that a fifth of the nation has "very little" confidence in the US criminal justice system (CJS). note, however, that there are demographic variables (black, uneducated, poor, urban, east coast, and politically independent) that correlate with less confidence. there is clearly massive heterogeneity. but that doesn't tell us about a change in climate. this article (written by a dood who's considered the mac daddy of criminologists) starts by saying that despite a CJS that is increasingly fair and effective, public trust and confidence have not improved. so, there may be a whole bunch of obvious (media presentation) and less obvious (escalating standards for democratic governance) explanations for this, and this may appeal to our intuition, but i'm not sure it's true. this chart , for example, shows that people are increasingly viewing the police as honest and ethical. frankly, the data here kinda suck so i'd be hesitant to make any definitive statements. groups (like which the show appears to be based upon) have done a great job of gaining publicity and making a statement that the CJS is imperfect and (implicitly) should therefore be humble. they're certainly correct on the imperfect part but they're really arguing by anecdote rather than big picture. i think, nonetheless, that the argument about CJS humility may be gathering a little steam - see for example this which shows increasing support for life without parole rather than the death penalty (which i refer to as d.p. but, due to the graphic nature of abf's mind, i should probaby refer to without abbreviation). interestingly, this shift in support seems to draw as much from decreased ambivalence (the "don't knows") as from d.p. (ai mami!) converts. one final note, when googling "confidence in the criminal justice system" you may note that the first ten hits are from foreign countries. maybe an indication of where we've (mis)placed our emphasis in reducing crime and improving justice.

abf said...

Okay, how about this notion instead? The idea of these people as heroes is at least more palatable than perhaps it would have been in the past?

Now, what exactly would I have used my "graphic" mind to interpret "dp" to be? Honestly, DP means director of photography in my world. Of course, I have done some dirty things with DP's, but that's another blog.

Anonymous said...

convicted criminals as heroes? if they're innocent (which occurs but probably not frequently) i'd describe them as victimized via wrongful conviction. if they're guilty, it's a tougher sell. right? there are two groups i see who regularly buy it. the first are the reactive college-age libs who jump on a bandwagon of criticism against the "man" and the "system" (who they, as likely as not, will someday become). the second group includes a subset of minority communities that martyrizes convicts due to the fact that the the criminal justice system was once explicitly discriminatory and a conviction that the current system is biased through less formal channels (namely latent racism in many people's minds and blatant racism in the minds of a select group). that criminal justice system legitimacy in notoriously low in the communities most in need of criminal justice aid (poor, minority communities) is perhaps the most tragic irony in modern crime fighting/justice producing.

abf said...

No, the "heroes" that I was referring to are the lawyers in the program, who are fighting to get those who were WRONGLY convicted to be released from prison. In order for the audience of the new show to admire them, want to spend an hour of the evening with them, the audience has to be willing to believe that they are pursuing something that is worthy and they, therefore, need to believe that sometimes -- not frequently -- people are sent to prison for crimes they did not commit.