SVU’ Fans May Have a Hard Time Hearing
Theo Wargo/Getty Images for Global Citizen
Perhaps you are a fan of the cop show Law & Order, or one of its many spinoffs, including Law & Order: SVU. Perhaps you’re so into the show that you forget it’s a show, and confuse real cops with fake ones, like SVU’s Odafin Tutuola (Ice-T), who is most definitely not a real cop. That didn’t stop someone from doing just that recently, though.
This is a little backstory here. Radio personality Anthony Cumia tweeted something controversial about George Floyd, which you can see here. One intrepid user decided to chime in. “Cops r ‘never’ supposed to wrestle with purps the only method to [subdue] a purp is verbal instruction then pepper spray or [taser].”
This keyboard warrior seems to have good intentions, to be honest. Apparently unsure of whether they were right or not, the user tags Ice-T (Tracy Lauren Marrow) to do a little fact check. Again, Marrow is an actor and a rapper. He got into a lot of trouble in the early ’90s for releasing a song called “Cop Killer.” Suffice to say, he’s not law enforcement.
Law & Order is a TV show, but for some reason people continuously think that it represents real policing. The issue is so bad that the organization Beyond Bars felt compelled to make a video about the differences between TV justice and real life court proceedings.
The video is called Law & Disorder, and it focuses on five myths perpetuated by the show. They are:
- The police focus on violent crime
- The accused get an adequate defense
- The accused get a trial
- The punishment fits the crime
- Justice is blind (with an emphasis on racial equality)
“The fact is that violent crime is always the smallest percentage of all crime,” said Martin Horn, the executive director of Beyond Bars. It actually makes up about 4% of all arrests. Other uncomfortable facts? Prison sentences in America are three times longer than other places in the world.
Also, only one in 40 felony cases go to trial, because defendants are pressured to take a plea deal, which isn’t always in their best interest. The catch is that most people can’t afford a good attorney, and the public defenders they get saddled with are so burnt out from a stacked caseload that they will also tell someone to take a plea deal.
Finally, Black men are five times as likely to go to prison in this country than other races. Basically, Law & Order is a sterilized, idealized version of a criminal justice system in this country that simply doesn’t exist. Ice-T being a cop should’ve been the first hint.
So, next time someone tells you they know the ins and outs of the justice system because they watch a show about the justice system on TV, let them know they don’t know what they’re talking about.
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