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David Indermaur Crime Research Centre University of Western Australia Escaping penal populism: Media Strategies.

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Presentation on theme: "David Indermaur Crime Research Centre University of Western Australia Escaping penal populism: Media Strategies."— Presentation transcript:

1 David Indermaur Crime Research Centre University of Western Australia Escaping penal populism: Media Strategies

2 Defining the problem The media do matter There are things we can do to counter or ameliorate the way the media facilitates populist exploitation Populist benefit means the use of crime and justice for popularity dividend rather than crime reduction or the achievement of justice

3 Public opinion exists within a dynamic framework dominated by political initiative, the media and special interest groups. Responses need to be strategic and work with these existing large influences.

4 A model of the interaction of media, public opinion, special interest groups and political decision makers (adapted from Kennamer, 1992). Political Decision Makers The Public The News Media Special interest groups

5 Political Decision Makers The News Media Special interest groups

6 Political Decision Makers The News Media Special interest groups engaging the media Tactic 1

7 Political Decision Makers The News Media Special interest groups Tactic 2 engaging policy makers

8 Political Decision Makers The News Media Special interest groups engaging SIG’s Tactic 3

9 What can be done? Provide information  Ensure that the source of funds is made explicit  Demand evaluation research  Name and shame populism  Communicate and share information and resources  Shift the debate to more meaningful questions  Improve the quality, nature and accessibility of information to the news media  Promote effective alternative policies and practices

10 Information strategies Providing readily accessible information for the media Providing information on cost effectiveness of policies Dialogue with the media to ensure best up-take. Providing information to the media on SIG claims, legitimacy Providing information on SIG agenda, membership, interest etc

11 Asking questions Challenging implicit assumptions Asking for evidence Providing information that raises doubts about the legitimacy of sources of information

12 Challenging populism Describing process of populist seduction Naming and shaming populist tactics Critiquing crime policy Develop “yellow card”/”red card” system. Publish data demonstrating news coverage versus real crime.

13 Reframing Focus on public safety Demand accountability of all measures Ensure all measures are independently evaluated Introduce accountability devices – such as the “Community safety budget”

14 Developing robust and viable alternative policies Highlight potentially more productive practices Promote the development of alternatives Continue to document the costs of imprisonment

15 Building a resource infrastructure

16 Information, Authority source Service providers Media NGOs Educators SIGs Students

17 International co-operation Sentencing project Coalition for sentencing reform Families against mandatory Minimums Rethinking crime and Punishment NACRO

18 Communication style Resonance – acknowledge problem and concern Assertion and ascendancy rather than defensiveness Create attractive imagery – hard working, earnest, tough minded motivated toward service and protection – aggressive rationalism

19 Aggressive rationalism Attends to the emotional need for action Attends to the media preference for decisive action Allows resonance with the frustration felt by the public Allows speaker to come across as “protector”

20 Example of aggressive rationalism Politicians should ‘get real’ in crime debate, Nacro says Nacro has called on politicians to be realistic about the role the courts can play in tackling crime, and cautioned against further eroding the rights of defendants in the rush to see justice done. The call came as the Audit Commission prepared to release a report expected to show a large gap between recorded crime and the numbers of offenders convicted in the courts. Nacro Chief Executive Paul Cavadino said, ‘No one has an interest in offenders evading justice apart from those who commit the crimes. So we support sensible reforms of the criminal justice system to improve the chance of offenders being caught and convicted. ‘All the evidence shows that it is the fear of getting caught, rather than the fear of punishment, that acts as a deterrent. Improved detection by the police, rather than greater harshness by the courts, is where reforming energies should be aimed. ‘Important as it is to improve the efficiency of the police and courts, this must not be at the expense of innocent people being convicted. ‘For years it has been known that the criminal justice system is a blunt instrument when it comes to tackling crime. We are doomed to disappointment if we expect the courts to deal with every crime and every offender. An efficient court system relies on alternative means of resolving crime – such as mediation and restitution – to be more widely used and available.’

21 Bringing it together Need to establish effective organisations and networks Need to be aware of media processes and avoid “capture” Need to advocate for “Policy buffers’ and other mechanisms to de-politicize crime and justice

22 Examples of counter statements Tough on crime, tough on the causes of crime In the past 10 years we’ve relied more upon the toughness test than the effectiveness test in enacting federal criminal legislation …We have not established nor seriously considered whether these policies have made a difference in rates of crime or the safety of our citizens

23 Key principles Attend to the emotional and symbolic levels Legitimacy and association are vital establish credibility of opinion leaders Subverting the processes of populism through exposing it

24 Think Global act local


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