‘Connect the Dots’ on Criminal Justice

This project emerged out of a growing interest in criminal justice issues, fueled in part by hearing more and more about them through my day job. From the start, the complexity of all the interrelated issues of such a story — incarceration rates, recidivism, drug policy, racial and socioeconomic inequality — had me on the lookout for a creative way to convey these ideas.

The notion of supplementing a print story with a Prezi “explainer” soon morphed into telling the entire story via Prezi, complete with audio clips of interviews and an NPR-inspired reporting voice. The visual element of the Prezi fleshed itself as an idea map, one the viewer can explore independently or navigate through step by step. Of course, for the full effect, one should just hit “Play” and watch.

Adorning this background required a variety of options: original photos, photos provided by sources, photos provided by other journalists and wire services, and even Wikimedia Commons, all given proper credit.

In addition to interesting people with their views and experiences of the criminal justice system, this project brought me into the orbit of studies and statistics from numerous sources: Pew, the Bureau of Justice Statistics, the Sentencing Project, the International Centre for Prison Studies…only some of which I knew existed at the outset of the project.

Working with data on this project meant I also got to revisit my not-formidable coding and graphic-making skills. I used Google Charts (and then took screen captures of the end results) to generate the graphs for this project.