Capital Punishment and the Media Xavier Mendez Professor Collica JUS110 September 12, 2011 Capital Punishment and the Media In today’s society, the capital punishment known as the death penalty has played a major role in the criminal justice system. It has brought important debates to the national attention in every aspect to whether end the lives of criminals. With the intense media coverage, it raised high standards on disputes on high profile cases such as serial killers. The attention given by the media towards capital punishment attracts the public own opinions.
As a result, they’re views of the media and society allows them to form important issues of impact on the debate of the capital punishment The majority of executions draw a great deal of media interest. The media’s approach towards the capital punishment has varied widely upon the criminal depending on the type of crime and method of execution. During the 1980s and 1990s, the cases were on top of the news headlines were serial killers such as Ted Bundy, John Gacy, Richard Ramirez, and Aileen Wuornos, (Goldman, 2002, p. 15).
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Those cases usually impacted the feelings and perspectives of the public opinion during the cases of the capital punishment. They have attracted pros and cons of capital punishment protesters on both sides of the issue in large numbers. However, these seem to have decreased down to just a few in most cases. History of Capital Punishment and the Media More than about three centuries ago, there was no media. Newspapers normally began to start in England around 1725 and were quite luxurious (Goldman 4). During that time period, only a few people could actually read.
The public executions were very important to show that justice had been done and provide prevention to others. In most circumstances, executions used to take place in the large crowds in the community to arouse the public interest (Kudlac, 2007, p. 4). The purpose of executing the criminal was to remind people of the punishment. By the 1800s newspapers began to be popular and public execution was abolished in England, Scotland and Wales in 1868 (Goldman, 2002, p. 2). Most of the reporters were still allowed to witness a number of executions for some years afterwards which allowed them to publish their stories.
Meanwhile, radio and later television news would be used to attract the public The role of capital punishment has played a significant role throughout the past. Most of the other times, the capital punishment wasn’t primarily evitable to the media and public, which was taken controlled by prisons only. Nearly all the executions taken place in early twentieth century were unnoticed. As of now in today’s society, the capital punishment has been a controversial topic in the criminal justice system. There have been more than 1,000 executions in 33 states since 1977 across the United States (Kudlac, 2007, p. ). This is what caused the raise of public view to start as the types of media covered of executions were attracting news headlines. Somewhat it came about the cases which questioned about the fairness of the capital punishment. Many of the death sentences had media attentions towards them in every aspect questioning equality. One of the reasons the media is so effective is mainly because of technology. The technology has made our society a part of the current worldwide revelation about problems not only of criminal justice but of social justice (Goldman, 2002, p. 64). Technology has placed us there with events around the world. It was technology that makes the media so consistent with their broadcasts which drives the information to the public. The Public View on Capital Punishment and the Media The transformation of the public view is important to understanding the capital punishment policy and its representation in the media. There was a forming relationship with the politicians, public, and penal experts who have emerged in which the politicians are more directives and penal experts are less dominant (Kudlac, 2007, p. 9). As you can see the political influences on public, it also sets the role on media. However, the criminal justice system is now more defenseless than ever to change the public frame of mind and political reaction as well. To be aware of the existing political and social circumstances of punishment, in regards to the capital punishment, it is necessary to look at both in relation to the media. With the attractions of the media, there are public opinion polls which provided the society’s attitudes about the death penalty.
The resulting surveys show that the public support for the capital punishment had risen and fall greatly over the past years. During the 1970s, when the capital punishment began to make its executions, an increased fear of violence in crime, the public supported 60 percent favoring executions (Von Drehle, 2006, p. 83). However, the public support of capital punishment continued to rise in the next decade. According to the General Social Survey, the favor of capital punishment was nearly 80 percent in 1994 (Von Drehle, 2006, p. 83). The public opinion regarding the death penalty would follow a decrease support over the time.
In 2006, the polls dropped to 55 percent, usually because of the questioning of fairness and equality in the cases indicating if the criminal is innocent or not (Von Drehle, 2006, p. 84). While seeing the result from above, the media has been the primary source for determining the public opinion to whether or not to support the capital punishment. The media coverage of serial killers anticipated many attentions in the American society. Serial killing grew from the 1977 onward, with intense reporting on several cases that attracted a huge public interest (Kudlac, 2007, p. 12). This helped shape the view of the rising dilemma.
The serial killers fit into a harsh disciplinary ideal, as society demands their execution in which many cases have possibly supports the punishment. These cases also were touched to the increase of disciplinary attitudes toward crime that occurred between 1977 and 1994 as public opinion toward capital punishment became increasing favorable (Kudlac, 2007, p. 13). Certainly, serial killers were the only death row cases that became highly profiled by the media. In conclusion, the capital punishment and the media have played an important role in particular cases of the criminal justice system.
With the intense media coverage, the public opinions and politician created debates which influenced the legislations of the capital punishment. In general, the mainstreaming of the media attracts the public’s perception to whether consider the news estimations. The majority of executions represented an immense deal of media attention. The media’s success of the capital punishment developed which sensational cases which impacted the American society. It impacted the mood and view on the public opinion which attracted capital punishment protesters.
It is well known that the media have the ability to attract a social issue in specific ways. As a result, the media had considerable impact on the public’s thoughts and perceptions regarding the capital punishment issues. References Goldman, Raphael. (2002). Capital Punishment. Chih Lin, Ann editor. Washington, D. C: CQ Press. Kudlac, Christopher S. (2007). Public Executions: The Death Penalty and the Media. Westport, CT: Greenwood Publishing Group. Von Drehle, Dave. (2006). Among the Lowest of the Dead: The Culture of Capital Punishment. Ann Arbor, Michigan: University of Michigan Press.