Writing Assignment 1
During the first video, one big fact that jumped out to me was that 90-95 percent of all criminal cases end in guilty pleas. This was a mind-blowing statistic to me, and I eventually had to look it up to see if it was true or not. Not only was the information he provided true, but I also learned that according to the Pew Research Center, “Nearly 80,000 people were defendants in federal criminal cases in fiscal 2018, but just 2% of them went to trial” (Gramlich). This statistic blows my mind. The justice system is built around the premise of procedural justice. Procedural justice is the idea that everyone has the right to a fair trial and it clearly seems that is not the case. People are being convinced into guilty pleas by public defenders mainly because their workload is far too high. When Oliver brought up the study in New Orleans that revealed some public defenders only have seven minutes to prepare for a trial, that also shocked me. Seven minutes is not even close to the proper time it takes to prepare for a trial. The New York Times reported that certain cases should take at least 200 hours to fully prepare for a trial. Even though these individuals are being provided with legal representation, the fact of the matter is that they are denied the right to a fair trial because of how minimal the efforts are to help them.
I think that this is a good way to present information to the public. The combination of facts and political satire makes for an interesting watch. Oliver does a good job of presenting the information for what it is and getting the point across while at the same time allowing the viewer to make their own opinion on the matter. The satire also helps to keep the topics light and memorable for people who do not like the mundane tone that is on every news station. A lot of people, myself included, find that watching normal news channels can be frustrating. They present information in a way that will best represent the interests of their network often leaving people with one a sided opinion. I think that even though he uses some comedy it helps to keep the show light and entertaining, while also giving people valuable information and facts.
Even though these numbers are not good and look bad for the District Attorney’s Office, there will always be a way to spin things and keep it looking normal. I think that the District Attorney’s office would try to spin these numbers to say that since 90 percent of all cases end in guilty pleas, they are being effective at their jobs. Rather than providing clients with the fair and just trial they are entitled too; they are simply going for effectiveness. They would try to use these same numbers to convey a different message. That message would be more of effectiveness rather than procedural justice. They could spin the case loads of public defenders as a positive thing saying that they are able to handle such a large amount of work and still get the job done. With over 90 percent of all cases they receive ending in a guilty plea, this could be seen as a positive thing to some. Keeping out some of the vital information such as the average time that public defenders get on cases, it would look as if they are really good at their jobs rather than overworked and convincing clients a guilty plea is the only option they have. They could also use this as a call to action for more people to step into this line of work. The District Attorney’s office could say that the large number of guilty pleas and conviction rates are a good thing for the counties. They could also point out that that it is taking less time and costing less money with guilty pleas than having everyone go to trial. Regardless of how bad the numbers look; the District Attorney’s office will always find a way to spin these numbers to keep their practices the same.
The old mindset as discussed in this video is the we versus the them. The “we” is discussed as being the Western World. The Western World is talked about as a “long life in a small family” (Rosling). What this means is that people in the western world are expected to have a small family and live a longer life. The them is discussed as being the developing world. The developing world is expected to have a short life in a large family. When this idea was first brought up, certain countries were considered the as the western world and the developing world. Countries like the U.S. were considered Western because of the rate at which people had children and lived long life’s. Countries like Afghanistan were considered developing because they had low life expectancy and high rates of reproduction. As time has gone by however, this has changed. Many countries have developed the same patterns revolved around two children and a longer life expectancy. There have been still countries that fall behind in both life expectancy and having large families.
The video has changed my mindset in some sense. It has helped me see that over time things will always change and develop to become more successful. We saw this perfectly with China as they changed throughout time to become one of the most successful countries in out world today. Even with the United States there has been major change in success and economic growth in the last 100 years. There is always going to be times when countries will struggle to stay afloat in certain aspects as discussed with the influenza and even with the great depression. Certain times will make counties struggle and other times will have room for growth. I think that it is important that we not take for granted how successful the United Sates has been for such a long time in comparison to other countries.
I think that this concept has changed. Personally, I have never been a person that wants to look at a country and think “we” versus “them” because ultimately we can no control where we come from and how we grow up but it is interesting to see what the U.S in general came from. I am always one to be thankful for growing up in a country that has such great opportunity and a family that is able to provide but always think about the ones that cannot. I think the “we” versus “them” is outdated and think it should be thought of how we are progressing as and entire human race rather than dividing us up by where we are growing up and spending our lives by choice or not by choice
Gramlich, J. (2019, June 11). Only 2% of federal criminal defendants go to trial, and most who do are found guilty.
LastWeekTonight. (2015, September 14). Public Defenders: Last Week Tonight with John
Oliver (HBO). Retrieved July 7, 2020, from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=USkEzLuzmZ4
LastWeekTonight. (2018, August 6). Prosecutors: Last Week Tonight with John Oliver (HBO).
Retrieved July 7, 2020, from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ET_b78GSBUs
Oppel, R., & Patel, J. (2019, January 31). One Lawyer, 194 Felony Cases, and No Time. Retrieved July 03, 2020, from https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2019/01/31/us/public-defender-case-loads.html
Peng, T. (2015, September 03). I'm a public defender. It's impossible for me to do a good job representing my clients. Retrieved July 08, 2020, from https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/our-public-defender-system-isnt-just-broken--its-unconstitutional/2015/09/03/aadf2b6c-519b-11e5-9812-92d5948a40f8_story.html
Rosling, H. (n.d.). Let my dataset change your mindset. Retrieved July 08, 2020, from https://www.ted.com/talks/hans_rosling_let_my_dataset_change_your_mindset?utm_campaign=tedspread
Should we continue to use the term “developing world”? (n.d.). Retrieved July 7, 2020, from
World Bank Blogs website: https://blogs.worldbank.org/opendata/should-we-continue-use-term-developing-world
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