Carroll, Leo

Advisor Department

Sociology and Anthropology




Televison; Crime; Public Perception; Media


Since the television became more readily available to the American public in the 1940s and 50s, television shows have captured the attention of the nation. While television programs and televisions themselves have changed since then there are a few constants, one being the continued popularity of crime shows. From Sunday to Saturday during ‘prime time’ on just the four major networks, there are over fifteen hours of crime programming. The shows aim to entertain, leading them to show many inaccuracies about crime and the justice system in America. Studies have shown that most white Americans receive their information about crime and the justice system from the media. It would be naive to believe that they only would rely on the skewed perception of crime that the news media presents and pretend that the entertainment media plays no role in shaping their perception of crime. Through a study of eleven top crime shows in recent years, we will see the inaccuracies that have been portrayed to the public and which may in the future effect public policy.