How Does the Media Portray Crime and the Criminal Justice System?

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Written by (Name of Student)
CCJ 1010-67239

Consider the following questions when completing this assignment:

1. The gender and race of the suspect(s)
2. The gender and race of investigators/prosecutors
3. The type of crime
4. Are there any ethical issues that immediately stand out?
5. Do you notice any difference in the behavior of the suspect(s) and police
officers/prosecutors when they are of the same race? Of different races? Of
different genders?
6. Does one type of crime predominate the documentaries selected?
7. During this course, have you read or seen on the news any actual cases that resemble
the story line featured in the documentaries you watched?
8. Why are crime dramas so popular?
9. What chapter(s) have you read so far that you could apply to this case?

About the Show:
The Murder of Laci Peterson
Credit to A & E
The Murder of Laci Peterson explores the infamous Scott Peterson trial, the case that
destroyed a family, gripped a nation, and defined an era, as a vehicle for understanding
Americas criminal justice system and the ways in which outside influences can affect
that system.

The mystery of Laci Petersons disappearance on Christmas Eve 2002 captivated the
nation. Eight months pregnant, she vanished without a trace. Her body and that of her
unborn child, Conner, appeared four months later the shores of the San Francisco Bay
causing a media frenzy on both a local and national level. To this day, no one knows
exactly when, where, or how she died, only that her husband Scott Peterson was
convicted of murder and sentenced to death, despite the absence of DNA evidence or
eyewitness testimony. Scott Petersons conviction was less a tribute to the efficacy of the
legal system than it was a case study for the overwhelming power of modern media to
deliver the facts of news in a way that creates irresistible tabloid fodder.
As the 15th Anniversary of Laci Petersons disappearance approaches, The Murder of
Laci Peterson takes a fresh, new look at the case, reexamining the circumstantial
evidence and assessing the medias influence on the case and its outcome. This
documentary series will include unprecedented access to Scott Peterson and his family as
they speak directly and candidly about Scotts conviction. In addition, the series will
include interviews with an expansive and impressive list of key eyewitnesses, experts,
lawyers, cops, journalists, detectives (professional and amateur), including Nancy Grace,
Gloria Allred, Amber Frey, Detectives Jon Buehler and Ed Steele, journalists Ken Auletta
and Maureen Orth, reporters Gloria Gomez and Garth Stapley, Scott Petersons trial co-
counsel Pat Harris, his appellate attorney Cliff Gardner, attorney and CNN and ABC
contributor Chris Pixley and local reporter turned CNN correspondent Ted Rowlands
among many others.
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