The Glitch in the System

Podcast Link

The source of media that I chose to analyze was a podcast I found regarding the concept of policing black men and transforming the system. I was excited to learn that this media blog could reference any topic covered this semester. I thought that this podcast was very similar to what we covered during this course, and even related to the two books we were assigned as well. Paul Butler is a professor at the University of Georgetown, who was also a former federal prosecutor. Paul Butler is very active in researching and teaching an abundance of aspects within criminal law. A specific aspect of criminal law that Paul Butler researches is race relation law, solidifying this podcast as a source of credible media to conduct my final media blog on regarding the prosecution of black men. As I listened to this podcast for key takeaways, it was almost immediate that I was drawn to Paul’s analogy regarding a choke hold. Paul described his concept of a chokehold as being a system that is set in place to set up African American men in its grip. Paul described the statistics regarding corrections in the United States, that our country locks up more people than any other country in the history of our world. This accurately builds on to the idea that the system needs transformed and that there is a major flaw that needs fixed. It’s always difficult to articulate an answer on such a multi-layered subject such as what Paul describes, but it’s reassuring to listen to someone credible state their opinions on the matter. When Paul was asked about the best approach to a reform in the system, he stated that it should be viewed as reform versus transformation.   Paul describes the idea of a transformation that should take place in society. As a society, we should strive to create a safe and fair system regarding people who cause harm, end up in a place where they are unlikely to recidivate again. Paul believes that locking people behind bars isn’t the most logical approach we should take. The mention of other stories involving young African Americans who felt as if they were stopped by police for simply being of color are also mentioned within this podcast. His description of racial profiling, thoughts on incarceration, and the idea of transformation versus reform approach is truly articulate and teeming with great thoughts of life that might better our society if looked at more closely.

This podcast was tied heavily with many matters we discussed in class. As our semester approached near the end, we discussed the important concept of disparity v. discrimination.  When discussing discrimination, the podcast’s ideas stemmed from this concept of a once flawed approach of punishing minorities to a harsher sentence within corrections than others. Our previously covered topic of discrimination and extralegal factors assisted by fueling me with a better understanding of what the podcast had to say. During this semester, we were assigned to read Policing the Black Man and Not a Crime to be Poor. Both of these books offered an in depth look at perhaps two of society’s worst wounds sustained over the existence of mankind. Having dived back into their captivating grip, I was able to pull two examples from each book that relate to what the podcast described. Within Policing the Black Man, Davis states, “Many other officials (probation and parole officers, prison officials, and legislators) make decisions that impact the lives of black men in fundamental and often devastating ways.” (p, 178.) Paul’s concept of a chokehold is stating exactly Davis’s (2018) example describes. When referencing to Not a Crime to be Poor, Edelman (2017) describes the in-school infractions and vague offenses regarding students. Edelman states that “As elsewhere, students ticketed are disproportionately poor African American, Latino, and student’s with disabilities.” (p, 127.) This builds onto the podcast’s idea of constructing a system to place those who create trouble in a place that will rehabilitate them, rather than to punish them.

As this semester comes to an end, I found myself fully indulged in the information this course had to offer. I found the in-class discussions to be a true form of learning, teaching me with an abundance of new ideas and concepts. The handful of books assigned to us truly opened up a new wave of knowledge within me, fueling my passion for criminology and criminal justice ever more. Although I’m usually much more of a visual learner rather than the means of listening to a podcast, I found this podcast to be truly interesting and conducted under an immensely well-done fashion. I would recommend this to anyone curious about the concept Paul Butler does so well in explaining, the concept of policing black men and ultimately transforming the system.


Davis, A. (2018). The Prosecution of Black Men. In A. J. Davis, Policing the Black Man: Arrest, Prosecution, and Imprisonment (pp. 178-209). Vintage Books.

Edelman, P (2017). Poverty, Race, and Discipline in Schools: Go Directly to Jail. In P. Edelman, Not a Crime to be Poor. The Criminalization of Poverty in America (pp. 117-135). The New Press.

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