360 Degrees: Perspectives on the U.S. Criminal Justice System

In the U.S., there are myriad sides to the debate that surrounds
the subject of crime and punishment, and most advocates tend to
pick the one that best serves their interests and stick to it. The
founders of Picture Projects, which is in the business of using new
media to produce advocacy-oriented documentaries, believe the
justice system is broken. So it’s no surprise that their website,
360 Degrees: Perspectives on the U.S. Criminal Justice
System
, comes to the same conclusion. Since it’s both
well-designed and allows visitors access to a host of different
perspectives, though, the site also manages to bring something new
to the discussion.

In the ‘Stories’ section of the site, for instance, users can
click on the image of a person’s face to get inside their case and
their heads. For example, Cristel was 15 years-old when she and her
sister slashed 13-year-old Lupita with a razor — she seemed beyond
rehabilitation. Eventually, though, she was turned around in a
Rhode Island youth facility and a judge reduced her sentence
because of the improvement. On the wheel of faces next to stories
like Cristel’s, you can also click on someone else’s to hear
another side: Lupita describing how she recovered from the 100
stitches mostly in her face and neck; Judge Jeremiah explaining his
decision; the prosecutor recounting her choice to try Cristel as a
juvenile instead of an adult. The audio is backed up with video of
the home and work spaces of interviewees, which gives visitors a
unique chance to immerse themselves in each person’s
perspective.

The site also provides a rich resource section and teaching
curriculum. The ‘Dynamic Data’ portion creatively sorts through
incarceration statistics. Quizzes offer an interactive component,
as does the ‘Dialogue’ section, where people affected by the system
can communicate with one another through postings.

There’s something for web design aficionados, as well. Some
major design muscles are flexed on the site, but every element has
its purpose. When you draw your cursor over one of the concentric
rings of a criminal justice timeline that spans 1,400 years, the
other rings ripple, like the domino effect all events have on
history. Every click to another portion of the site resonates with
the sound of prison doors slamming shut. The bells and whistles
never overwhelm the content, though, making the site a valuable
resource for anyone who wants to learn more about the criminal
justice system or design effective advocacy web sites or both.

Go there >>
360degrees.org

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