Every day, there’s a story in the news about the brutal treatment of an inmate or prosecutorial misconduct in a case that has kept an innocent man behind bars for decades.
For me, the stories are a dream come true. For too long, the truth about America’s criminal justice system has been hidden from the public. Outrage is unlocking its secrets. It’s a blessing for advocates of prison reform, because these days, “crime” is getting great ratings.
According to Variety, “primetime programming at Fox News Channel, MSNBC and CNN rose 8% in 2018…while total revenue rose 4% to $5.3 billion.”
Prime time crime shows are raking in big bucks from advertisers, including Chicago PD, FBI and FBI Most Wanted, NCIS, Law & Order Special Victims Unit, Blue Bloods, How To Get Away With Murder, SWAT and Hawaii Five-O, among other hugely popular crime programs currently on TV.
It’s prompting news networks and newspapers to cover the real stories behind the bars. NBC Nightly News is a prime example.
In September 2019, NBC anchor Lester Holt went to Angola, Louisiana’s maximum security prison, to talk to inmates and spend 2 nights in a cell. A few days later, he held a town hall with prisoners at Sing-Sing, a New York State maximum security prison. NBC Nightly News with Lester Holt was “the #1-most watched newscast in the key A25-54 and A18-49 demos for the week of September 2, 2019,” according to the ratings giant, Nielsen Media Research.
Am I grateful that big time journalism is getting the message? You bet. Because I’m not a lone voice in an abyss anymore.
After a 25-year battle to free my husband, publishing two books with him – one while he was still in prison and writing my memoir – “Love Behind Bars: The True Story of an American Prisoner’s Wife,” I am so glad others’ stories are getting the attention they deserve.
Because America’s prison system is an inhumane mess.