NPR & A Call To Crime Victims

Tomorrow marks the end ofNational Public Radio’s The State of Things week long program dedicated to the criminal justice system.  Dubbed “Law and Order Week”, the lunch-time, hour long program has profiled elements of criminal justice including:

– The lack of social services to support offenders (Monday)

– Racial profiling (Monday)

– Legal reform (Tuesday)

– The role “legal fiction” plays in all of this (Tuesday)

– The war on drugs (Wednesday)

– Rehabilitation and re-entry of offenders (Thursday)

– Prisoners rights (Friday)

5 one-hour programs. 3 featuring offenders. Not 1 profiling the cog that drives the wheel of justice; crime victims. As I reported yesterday, when I contacted the show’s host, Frank Stasio he was defensive, explaining that “we are all victims of crime”. Later -apparently after reading my website – he backed down, playing the roll of armchair psychologist: I’m terribly sorry about your sister…It must be very painful for you”. 

Sympathies appreciated, but it misses the point. 

I responded by requesting that if he wanted to make up for the omission he could do an hour-long program on the families of victims in Rocky Mount, NC.  5 murdered women – Joarniece Latonya Hargrove, Jackie Nikelia Thorpe,  Ernestine Battle, Melody LaShae Wiggins,  and Taraha Shenice Nicholson – have turned up in the same geographic area, 3 others are missing; and it’s all being ignored because the victims are black, and alleged prostitutes / drug addicts. I don’t have to remind anyone in Vancouver how badly this smells.

I am still awaiting Frank Stasio’s response.

I want to be clear about something. It is not my aim to vilify NPR, the program The State of Things, or its host, Frank Stasio. I love the program. It is insightful and comprehensive. Its host is always knowledgeable of the subjects. I’ve even had the opportunity to spend an evening with Frank at a Durham Bulls baseball game; we enjoyed beers and polite conversation about Durham and NPR.

That’s what makes all of this so disappointing. These are quality people and a quality program, but they have clearly missed the mark on this one.

The marginalization of crime victims is something we have fought against for decades. If you have an opinion please contact The State of Things tomorrow at noon EST:  1.877.962.9862 or by emailing sot@wunc.org

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