Public Opinion And Policy Implications Of Television

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Television remains a very important standard regarding how the community view the criminal justice system. Most residents have very little contact with the criminal justice system, usually limited to contacts with police. Only an estimated 21 % of citizens have contact with police officers in a year, and 40 % of those contacts are merely traffic stops (Bureau of Justice
Statistics, 2002). Most people get their information and perceptions about crime and the criminal justice system through various media outlets. Those who rely on the media, however, do not always receive an accurate view of reality. Media depictions, whether accurate or not, have very important public opinion and policy implications.
One prime example of how the media can have powerful influences on public opinion was the focus on school violence in the past decade. The school shootings in the 1990s caused a panic among many parents who had children in school at that time. As portrayed by the media, school violence and shootings were on the rise, and something had to be done. As a result of the public outcry, Congress held hearings on the problem, and school budgets were strained in order to get such enhancements as metal detectors and school cameras. The media attention given to school shootings seemed to result in a widespread panic, where actual statistics and logical assessments of the threat were replaced by emotionally charged reactions to these isolated incidents (Burns & Crawford, 1999). In actuality,
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