Challenges of Reporting on Corrections: An Exploratory Study Derived from Interviews with American Reporters Who Cover Jails and Prisons
Corrections Compendium, Spring 2011, pp. 7-13
7 Pages Posted: 23 Apr 2014
Date Written: 2011
Although numerous studies have been conducted on how reporters cover crime in general (Cohen and Young, 1981), or police specifically (Ericson, Baranek and Chan, 1989), other components of the criminal justice system have been relatively ignored. One area that is rarely explored is the news media’s (specifically print) experience and efficacy to report on corrections (i.e., jails, prisons, community corrections, inmates, correctional officers, correctional administrators, and the policies and practices therein).
Why is this important? During the past four decades, America has experienced one of the largest expansions in its jail, prison and community corrections populations. In 2008, 7.3 million people were under the control of the U.S. criminal justice system. Approximately 2.2 million were behind bars in jails or prisons, 4.3 million were on probation and 828,169 were on parole (U.S. Department of Justice, 2010a). State and federal correctional facilities (not to mention private prisons) employ roughly 650,000 people who work as administrators, correctional officers, case managers, classification officers, probation and parole officers, counselors and social workers. It currently costs approximately $68.8 billion a year to fund the U.S. correctional system (U.S. Department of Justice, 2010b) and the number of individuals entering jails and prisons is generally increasing. In short, reliable reporting on the field of corrections in the United States is necessary to draw attention to and understand this social issue.
Keywords: jails, prisons, penitentiaries, inmates, correctional facilities, reporters, news media, criminal justice system, correctional officers, correctional administrators, case managers, probation officers, parole officers
JEL Classification: L82, L89, K14, K19, K42, K49
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation