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NCJRS Abstract

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NCJ Number: 202073 Find in a Library
Title: Electronic Monitoring and Newspaper Coverage in the Press: A Content Analysis
Journal: Journal of Crime & Justice  Volume:26  Issue:1  Dated:2003  Pages:133-156
Author(s): Brian K. Payne; Randy R. Gainey
Date Published: 2003
Page Count: 24
Type: Report (Study/Research)
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: This study examined the ways in which electronic monitoring of offenders has been portrayed in the media by conducting a content analysis of 210 newspaper articles that mentioned some aspect of electronic monitoring with house arrest.
Abstract: Electronic monitoring is a sanction that has received a great deal of attention from the media and from criminologists. Linking the media attention with the academic literature, this study considered whether the media had accurately portrayed electronic monitoring. In conducting the content analysis of 210 newspaper articles that mentioned "electronic monitoring" and "house arrest," general themes were identified that focused on whether the article portrayed electronic monitoring positively or negatively. For the positive aspects of the sanction, the following themes were found in the analysis: electronic monitoring as a control mechanism, cost benefits, vulnerable populations, and the rehabilitative nature of the sanction. The negative content of articles addressed concerns about safety, electronic monitoring as a lenient sanction, pragmatic problems, and prohibitive costs. Over one in five of the articles implied that electronic monitoring with house arrest is an unsafe crime prevention strategy. Beyond the academic debate, however, there was virtually no systematic research that suggested house arrest with electronic monitoring, whether used as a pretrial detention option or a sentencing strategy, poses a serious threat to society. The combination of increased attention to crime (notably violent crime) and attempts to "add drama to the story" possibly resulted in some members of the public becoming alarmed when they heard of offenders "being free" in the community. This article recommends that professionals familiar with the strengths of electronic monitoring take a proactive approach in generating accurate information about the sanction. Further, efforts should be made to educate members of the media about alternative sanctions. Also, when developing press releases that highlight an offender's status, the actual conditions of the sentence should be reported. Issues for further research are also discussed. 97 references
Main Term(s): Corrections policies
Index Term(s): Electronic monitoring of offenders; House arrest; Media coverage; Media support; Public Opinion of Corrections
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