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Crime on Television: Issues in Criminal Justice

NCJ Number
Journal of the Institute of Justice and International Studies Issue: 2 Dated: 2003 Pages: 9-18
Sarah Eschholz
Date Published
10 pages
This article examines the contention that television programming presents a distorted picture of crime in America.
Critics have long decried that television programming presents a distorted view of violence in America and exacerbates racial tensions by portraying African-Americans most often as criminals, rather than as victims or police officers. This article analyzes such contentions by reviewing studies of television programming and its effects on the public, and in turn, on public policy. Providing research from such disciplines as communications, psychology, and sociology, the article illustrates the relationships between television content, television viewing, public perceptions of crime and violence, individual behavior, and public policy. Images of violence dominate television programming, creating a public perception of an epidemic of violence in America. Furthermore, Black males suffer as a result of television programming that predominately presents this group as violent crack-heads who make up an angry under-belly of American society. The author concludes that while the media is not responsible for the crime problem in America, the studies discussed in this article illustrate how television programming plays an important part in providing information to the public and to politicians.