I Could Watch 48 Hours for 48 Hours

Have you ever seen this? It's a real time cop/detective/cultural  show where they try to solve a case in 48 hours, and often, they succeed, though never really in 2 days. It's compelling to watch the detectives try to figure out some random act of violence (usually a murder) and go to the door of a house and question the mom, and then find the kid playing basketball in the park, and throw him on the ground, all while being video-taped.

My favorite part is the interviews with the suspect--but it's also the most disturbing scene because it's where the people who don't know any better should ask for a lawyer and NOT TALK until the lawyer arrives. Instead, they often confess, but in this way that absolves them of doing anything more than defending themselves. It's always a case of self-defense, even when the person they've killed is an 85 year old blind grandma in a wheelchair. "She was going for something in her handbag and I thought I saw a gun and so I shot her." "Those were knitting needles." "They looked sharp."

One show we watching on Friday involved this kid who got into an argument with a guy he barely knew and ended up stabbing him multiple times and killing him. The way he described the stabbing was like, "And he was coming at me and he got hit with the knife." The detective goes, "You made it sound like  you had nothing to do with that." The guy said, "I just sort of poked him like that." Eight times he poked him (aside: this reminds me of that line in the musical Chicago where the female prisoner goes, "And then he ran into my knife. He ran into my knife nine times").

There's never really any social commentary about it---there's voice over narration that explains what's happening and why, whether the suspect has a criminal record or any warrants, but they don't contextualize it in terms of how he may have gotten to be where he is. They don't say, "John's dad left when he was two and at age five, he saw his mom get shot by her drug-dealing boyfriend." Because the show isn't about understanding why people break the law, it's about solving the case and putting people away for twenty years and not rehabilitating them and then releasing them back into society with no skills so they can be re-arrested for the next episode of 48 Hours.

The other episode we watched was this kid--nineteen years old--who shot two people in the same day in separate incidents. One died and one lived. And he confessed to all of it after he learned that the second shooting had been caught on videotape in the parking lot. He also didn't ask for a lawyer. That's another thing that you might want to keep in mind if you're going to commit a crime--if you're in a public place, you might get caught on camera (that's a whole other show). His mom came to see him and she gave him a hug and she said, "Boo, did you do it?" He nodded and started crying. She said, "I know you're upset, but think about what that other family is going through right now." He had his head in his arms on the table and said, "My life is gone. Mama, I can't do any more time."  That's where I wished there was some social program or alternative way to deal with especially younger people who commit crimes--something where they could have another chance and get help and get moved out of their neighborhood and given drug treatment and counseling and the opportunity to be around people who care about how they turn out. I think there is a program like that actually---I saw some PBS show about it, like that's how they deal with juvenile crime in more socially progressive countries like Canada and Australia. Here, we lock them up and say bye-bye and make TV shows about it. And I watch, so I'm complicit too.