Tag Archives: perp walk

The “perp walk”

Today’s Times takes a glimpse at an old journalism tradition known as “the perp walk.” It is a ritual in which the police take a suspect (whom they routinely refer to as a “perpetrator” or “perp”) for a short walk, whether it’s really necessary or not. The idea is to put the perp on display for the media, especially the cameras. The perp walk plays absolutely no role in the administration of justice, but it represents a perfect convergence of the interests of the police and the media. That may be why it has survived court orders aimed at eliminating it.

As I see it, the perp walk is a result of the transparency built into our criminal justice system,which, on the whole, has served us pretty well. I’m not sure I would swap it for the French system, for example, which is mentioned in the Times.

What do you think?

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Filed under Journalism, journalism history