Saturday, January 03, 2009

The First 48


I recently completed my AA in Criminal Justice through University of Phoenix and while most people would assume I'd be interested in watching television programs that have something to do with that subject, I didn't the entire 2 years of my studies. Mainly, in my opinion, because when you are learning about the law day in and day out, television shows that have something to do with the law and justice system no longer seem like forms of entertainment...they seem more like homework.

So I have recently started on my BA in Psychology and those shows appeal to me so differently these days.

I spent half of two days watching The First 48 and just happened upon The Manhunters. As gruesome as The First 48 is, I actually enjoy it very much.

For those unfamiliar with The First 48, it focuses on homicides first 48 hours because typically, if officers of the law cannot solve a homicide within 48 hours, it lessens their chances by 50% of finding someone to "pin" the crime on.

As I watched the officers stay up all night until they solved their cases, it confirmed my reasons for not using my Criminal Justice degree to become a police officer. First off, I don't really care for OUR justice system. I had an interest in it because I want to help people who do not understand how ass backwards it is and how they can end up in prison simply because someone THINKS they are the murderer. People need to be informed and unfortunately, if you live in the wrong environment and/or neighborhood, you'll wind up as one of these people who are imprisoned for being an accomplice or for actually committing the crime.

Learning about criminal justice and watching these shows makes me feel VERY uneasy about what our laws are around to REALLY protect.

At the end of each episode of The First 48, there is some writing that comes up on the screen (after they've made an arrest) that says something to the effect of the person arrested is presumed innocent until proven guilty....but you've arrested someone AND they have been sentenced for murdering someone...sometimes 15 years all the way up to life in prison.

For example, there were these 4 boys (16-18) who went to rob a cafe and one of the boys killed a customer that was sitting there eating after the customer threw a bottle at these little insane idiots. The boy that did the shooting, I guess was randomly letting shots go off and shot one of his boys...the 16 year old. At first, NONE of the boys were admitting to the attempted robbery or killing. Finally, the 16 year old, after realizing he was about to be detained in some juvenile facilities until this murder was solved, spoke up and admitted he was there and the other guys were too. The police commended him for "being a man" and admitting he was a part of the botched robbery. Did he get less time or a different sentence than the boy who ACTUALLY killed the customer? No. ALL FOUR BOYS GOT SENTENCED FOR FIRST DEGREE MURDER AND ATTEMPTED ROBBERY.

That might make sense to SOMEONE, but it doesn't make ANY sense to me. I do understand the sacredness of life and it should not be downplayed but ONE person killed that customer...not FOUR. But BECAUSE all 4 boys were there, they received the SAME sentence.

Now, 2 women were in a house when this man was shot by one of their boyfriends and the man ended up dying on a porch across the street...these women were let go with a "thank you for helping us"...AFTER THEY LIED AND SAID THEY DIDN'T KNOW THE MAN WHO WAS ACCUSED OF MURDERING THE OTHER GUY. The Sgts. told the women they would be in the police station until they told the officers what happened. That they couldn't go home. Granted, they didn't ASSIST in the killing of the man but they sure as hell didn't try to stop it AND they denied knowing anything about it for almost 24 hrs. One of the Sgts. said he was just going to let them go because it was more important to get the murderer.

I just want to understand why the 16 year old was sentenced like an adult (I do believe he deserved SOME punishment but not the EXACT same as the killer; AND...he had been shot by the killer too!) and these two heffas were let go without even a slap on the wrist. I know....it's the law. BUT...there have been people who have gone to jail for covering up for a criminal...just like these two women did and were going to CONTINUE to do. Being in the wrong place at the wrong time, makes you an accomplice and you can go to jail for that.

Now...if you have killed someone, yes, you should receive punishment for it but....I will NEVER understand a JUSTICE system that sentences someone THEN says "presumed innocent until proven guilty". If you are going to throw someone in jail until their trial, it's more like they are guilty until proven innocent. The show pretty much shows WHY people in "urban" areas are TERRIFIED to stand up to the ruffians ruining their neighborhoods.

Would you want to ID someone when your face isn't hidden on the camera? That means the person you identified, their family and friends who are watching this show can see who alerted the authorities and now, come after you for "snitching". I'm not saying that it is wrong to let police know who killed someone if they need assistance...if it was your mother, father, sister, brother, niece, nephew, grandparent that was killed, I'm sure you'd want the murderer to be justly tried and imprisoned for taking the life of your loved one.

What I do have a problem with is how the authorities handle these situations. They want help from the very people they don't do much to protect after they've gotten what they want...the murderer. There were some people's faces grayed out and their voices were distorted but if you show the persons street sign and house address, with them walking out of it, you show their ENTIRE body AND you say their name, guess what? You might as well have shown their face and let their voice be heard clearly because you STILL told everyone in the neighborhood who you brought in as a witness.

The show is entertaining, not because I like killing but because it shows a side of law enforcement that they have no idea they are portraying. They are focused on that FIRST 48 HOURS...and nothing more.

NOTE: I know there are officers out there that do care about the people who have to deal with the repercussions of helping the police and those officers are to be commended for their efforts to protect the public from the wrath of the murderer. But we aren't talking about them right now...LOL

3 points of view:

a black girl who did date said...

This is actually one of my favorite shows. The justice system is effed up but I enjoy watching the detectives work each case.

mslareid said...

I love this show...my favorite person is Caroline Mason and the Memphis squad...they crack me up every single time. Some of the ways they go about wrapping up their cases on the show don't really make much sense to me either as far as sentencing goes but like you said they are only concerned about those "first 48 hours."

suga said...

I ca't watch that show. It makes me way too sad, but I do understand your disappointment with how the justice system hands out punishments.

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