Green Bag, Vol. 2, No. 5, 2nd Edition, 1998
13 Pages Posted: 30 Jul 1998 Last revised: 23 May 2012
The widespread dissemination of knowledge about the Miranda protections is often referred to as one of the most successful efforts ever made to educate the American public about its constitutional rights. Studies confirm that a high percentage of the public is aware of Miranda, largely due to television and other mass media. This article asks the question: if television is educating the public about its Miranda rights, what exactly is it teaching us? As fans of the cop show NYPD Blue (a show in which the interrogation and confession are often the dramatic focus) we use that show to explore the messages popular culture communicates about Miranda and the conduct of police interrogations. We ask not only what legal norms about police conduct are transmitted through television, but also what role television itself has in creating those norms. We also explore an ancillary question: if so many people know their rights, why don't more people assert them -- both on television and in real life?
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