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Media and Crime

The American public is fascinated with crime and therefore, there is no shortage of media depictions of crimes and criminals. Been familiar with biological, psychological, and sociological theories of crime, select to news stories: 1) The Waco Siege (April 19, 1993) and 2) Columbine High School Shooting (April 20, 1999). Applying at least two theories from the biological, psychological, and/or sociological perspectives to each news story, write an analysis of each news story addressing the following:
1) What is the purpose of the story as you perceive it?
2) How is crime or criminal justice portrayed?
3) What feeling or reactions do you think are evoked in you by the article?
4) How would be explain the reported criminal behavior using the two theories you selected? Explain your choice of theory.

Please provide references.

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1) What is the purpose of the story as you perceive it?

WACO Siege Story

The siege at Waco, Texas took place as federal agents were trying to arrest the leader of the religious group, the Branch Davidians, David Koresh. The purpose of the siege was to confiscate weapons that federal agents suspected the group was hiding. A search warrant was issued on the weapons violation that had been obtained by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearm and Explosives (ATF). The ATF attempted to raid the
Compound and issue the arrest warrant. A gun battle erupted in which four agents and six members of the Branch Davidians were killed.

After an unsuccessful raid, the Federal Bureau of Investigators (FBI) initiated a siege that lasted 51 days. It was during this attempted siege that tear gas was released into the compound sparking a fire that resulted in the deaths of 76 people, including the leader of the religious group, David Koresh (

A controversy has evolved followed the Waco siege regarding the origin of the fire. In an investigative report, the government argued that the fire was started by the Branch Davidians. Subsequently, the FBI recommended that Attorney General, Janet Reno investigate the claim

The FBI identified 40 agents to inquire as to whether the ATF used "incendiary devices" to cause the fire in the compound (Seper, 1999)
One claim was that the fire had killed 86 persons, including 24 children. Upon recognizing that the bureau's image had been damaged by the Waco Siege, an independent investigation was recommended. (Seper,1999).

Several key members of congress, including Republican Henry Hyde from Illinois; considered a congressional commission to investigate the agents and government culpability in the Waco siege.

In the concluding investigation, Reno found that FBI agents had used a "limited number of military-type gas canisters" during the raid that could penetrate the roof of a bunker yards away from main buildings. This finding discredited earlier positions of federal agents in which Reno was assured that no flammable devices had been used.

Continuing rather than clearing up the controversy, the FBI attempted to explain while their earlier position that no flammable devices had been used was inaccurate. In their new position they asserted that the devices they used did not cause the fire. Both houses of Congress [republicans and democrats] demanded an investigation into the allegations that the federal agents was at fault regarding the fire and the resulting deaths of the religious group members. Moreover, both side felt they were right and vindicated by their actions (Ayneswoth, 2000).

The Columbine High School tragedy involved a shooting at a high school in Columbine, Colorado on April 120, 1999. While the purpose of the shooting remains unclear, two senior students murdered a total of 12 students and one teacher.

On April 20, 1999, at 11:19 a.m., exploding bombs signaled the start of a violent rampage on the Columbine High School campus that left 12 students, one teacher and the two killers dead; 24 students transported to hospitals, and 160 more treated for injuries on site. (Pascopelelia, 2004
In ...

Solution Summary

This solution examines the Waco and Columbine High School tragedies in the context of criminal theories.