Sunday, February 13, 2011

Documentary on Media, Race, Crime, and Punishment

Juror Number Six (2008) -- a short documentary on the Web -- explores the media, race, and the criminal justice system. Dozens of clips from television news, drama, and reality programs vividly illustrate how media shapes our perceptions (and jurors' perceptions) of crime and criminals. Crime has been going down, and yet crime is portrayed much, much more. Fear sells.

While the news scares viewers, dramas might actually comfort us. On "Law and Order," for instance (and I've happily watched hundreds of hours of it!), we see far more African American judges, prosecutors, and defense attorneys than are present in most communities. Defendants all seem to have counsel right away, and generally very sharp counsel. And so, the film suggests, we are led to believe that the system is much fairer than it actually is.

The documentary's producer lists impressive partners:

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