The Curmudgeon


Saturday, January 08, 2005

News 2020

Making the present look like paradise

The US entertainment company JustVision, which specialises in televising real-life acts of justice, has called on the US government to pay more attention to the race issue in America's prisons.

JustVision had been televising real-life criminal and civil trials for nearly fifteen years before its controversial leap to fame with the documentary Fast Track Justice, which followed the activities of a group of vigilantes on the New York subway system.

Although the vigilantes were almost universally acknowledged to be doing "a superb job", the programme shocked many with its explicit depiction of the summary floggings, hangings and shootings with which the group tries to maintain order on the subway.

The case eventually came before the US Supreme Court, which ruled that, whatever the truth or falsity of the images transmitted, what mattered was whether they caused offence to "moderate public opinion". Since the programme's transmission had resulted in a 25% rise in calls for televised public executions, the verdict was that Fast Track Justice had not caused such offence.

The programme was certainly one of the major factors behind the passage of the Public Enlightenment Through Justice Act the following year, which permits owners of correctional facilities to bid for television airspace for any executions they carry out.

However, JustVision now claims that an element of racial discrimination has entered the process, with more than 75% of the principals in televised executions being from ethnic minority groups. JustVision says that this is "an unacceptable breach of guidelines."

Several independent corrective reclamation corporations have said that they will look at their policy on televised executions in light of JustVision's objections, but have also pointed out that the figures are an accurate reflection of racial distribution in executions taking place in the country.

"We realise that 75% of executions involve non-white incarceratory material," said JustVision spokesperson Roper Frye. "All we're saying is that those executions which are televised are a matter of entertainment policy rather than judicial policy, and entertainment policy dictates that non-ethnic principals are more telegenic."


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