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Tag Archives: Criminal justice

I have put off posting about the Jodi Arias case until a verdict came in. And yesterday, finally, more than four months after this absolute circus of a trial began, a jury of twelve (infinitely patient) people handed Ms. Arias a first-degree murder conviction for killing her ex-boyfriend, Travis Alexander, in June 2008. (Why on earth this case took so long to go to trial is something I have never heard explained in the media — was it because Arias changed her story so many times?)

Okay. I have lots of thoughts about this trial and what it says about how the public perceives (take your pick) women/sex/violence/the criminal justice system/the death penalty. But for now, I’ll focus on immediate media coverage of the verdict.

Let’s begin with HLN, since the cable news-lite network has made the Arias trial its raison d’etre, carrying out near 24-hour coverage of the spectacle since it began in January, even going so far as to create a three-dimensional model of the crime scene and assembling a mock jury every night to weigh in on the day’s evidence.

Not surprisingly, I was greeted by this on the HLN homepage today, front and center, or what used to be deemed in ancient newspaper days as “above the fold:”

verdict

Because the Arias case has all along been a tabloid trial–that is, covered breathlessly by what we might think of as the trashy/sensationalistic/if-it-bleeds-it-leads news media–it’s no surprise that the classy Daily News also delivered the verdict above the fold in its second slot. (I can only imagine it would have been first had the bombshell Cleveland kidnapping rescue not happened his week.) The News also had a scoop: that Arias, ever the narcissistic wannabe-media-darling, is now declaring in trademark dramatic fashion that she would rather be put to death than spend the rest of her life in prison. (My question: who gave her the lipgloss for her first post-verdict interview? And don’t they, like, carry a convicted first-degree murderer directly off to jail at that point? As in, do not pass go, do not sit down for a soft-focus television interview?)

halfway verdict

Next let’s head over to the New York Times, which has studiously ignored the trial up until now. The Grey Lady conceded some coverage today, but only alluded to it in the most generic of terms, and waaaaay far down the page at that, in its “U.S.” section. (I had to add a red circle around it ’cause it’s pretty tiny.)

small verdict

Moving on! The liberal intellectuals over at NPR, to my surprise, did carry an Arias headline, albeit without a photo, right on their homepage, but not without a fight from its highbrow readers, some of whom were just plain disgusted that public media would stoop so low. Here’s an excerpt from the article’s comment section:

who cares verdict

More thoughts on the trial later.

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bronx 1

The New York Times has an absolutely sickening series this week by William Glaberson on the outrageous situation that’s being perpetrated in the Bronx‘s criminal justice system. (Injustice system is more like it, I’d say.) Defendants languish indefinitely in jails while judges deal–or choose not to deal, as the case may be–with a backlog of cases going back, in some instances, six or seven years. Meanwhile, witnesses forget important details, defense attorneys capitalize on the long delays, district attorneys shrug their shoulders at their abysmally low prosecution rates, and anguished families of both victims and defendants live in protracted misery.

Ugh.

Worth a listen.

Worth a listen.

There’s a very worthwhile public radio collaboration going on called the Prison Time Media Project. It’s based out of North Country Public Radio and it focuses on some very important social justice questions that arise out of our current industrial prison complex. (I use the word “industrial” because it’s a business, let’s be honest, and the word “complex” because its socio-political underpinnings, which I’ll explore generally in this blog are, well, complex.)

One of the Project’s recent series is called “Are Drug Courts the Answer?”┬áby producer Natasha Haverty. It’s a topic I’m sure I’ll be wrestling with constantly in my social work career, and it’s well worth a listen.