After reading this section, students will be able to:
- Examine the relationship between theory, research, and policy.
- Understand the factors involved in creating moral panics.
- Identify the stages involved in creating policy.
- Understand the role of evidence-based practice in policy.
- Reflect on how current events and politics shape policy.
In this section, you will be introduced to policy in the criminal justice system. Policies that can be examined include issues related to juvenile justice, drug legislation, intimate partner violence, prison overcrowding, school safety, new federal immigration laws, terrorism, and national security.
Critical Thinking Questions
- What is a current example of a moral panic?
- How does the media help influence policy?
- If the media has so much influence over policy, how can we ensure fair and just laws and practices?
- Think of a crime problem in your area. What policy would you enact to combat it and how would you evaluate this policy to see if it was working?
- What are some policies you can think of that have changed over time? (eg. Marijuana legalization)?
- 4.2: The Myth of Moral Panics
- Moral panic has been defined as a situation in which public fears and state interventions greatly exceed the objective threat posed to society by a particular individual or group who is/are claimed to be responsible for creating the threat in the first place. Moral panics arise when distorted mass media campaigns create fear and reinforce previously held or stereotyped beliefs, frequently centered around ethnicity, religion, or social class.