“Law & Order” Actress Diane Neal Responds to John Oliver Episode

Attorney General Casey Novak’s job was simple – to convict bad guys who had been arrested by New York City Police Department investigators and give rape victims some semblance of justice. And in the over 100-plus episodes of “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit,” she’s almost always done it.

Diane Neal, the actress who played Novak for seven seasons on the TV crime drama, thought that’s how it works in real life. Police worked with victims to catch scammers, rarely arrested the wrong man and never left the case unresolved. Then prosecutors sent the criminals to prison.

“I’m embarrassed to admit, I’m used to thinking the way the show works like real life,” Neil wrote on Twitter. “Then I found out the hard way I was wrong.”

Neil’s reaction was finale episode From HBO’s “Last Week Tonight,” host John Oliver spent nearly 30 minutes blasting the “law and order” franchise for doing “propaganda” to police and prosecutors for more than 30 years. More than 1,200 episodes of “Law & Order” and its multiple spinoffs have created a distorted view of how the American criminal justice system works — or doesn’t work, Oliver told viewers in a clip that garnered more than 2.8 million views on YouTube by early Wednesday.

Representatives for Neil and “Law & Order” creator Dick Wolf did not immediately respond to a request for comment from The Washington Post.

Over the course of dozens of seasons and hundreds of episodes, the “Law & Order” world has presented a key thesis to its viewers, Oliver said, “Cops care deeply about justice for victims, and their instincts mean they almost always get the job done in the end.”

this is not true. The vast majority of crimes reported to police in the United States go unsolved, although those include low-profile property crimes such as burglary and theft, according to Pew Research Center Report 2020. But even when it comes to crimes that deal with the highest risks — violent crimes — law enforcement officials have successfully filtered fewer than half of the reported cases.

Diligent endurance of “law and order”

The criminal justice system’s record on rape is particularly poor. According to the nonprofit advocacy group, less than a third of sexual assaults are reported to law enforcement Is raining, or the National Network of Rape, Abuse and Incest. About 16 percent of these reports lead to an arrest, while 9 percent lead to a criminal conviction.

But viewers who watch “SVU” won’t know about the low conviction rates or the reports about it Understaffed Special Victims Units. Oliver said the show delivers a narrative with a consistent message: that the system holds the bad guys accountable.

During the clip, Oliver played one clip of Wolf, the creator of “Law & Order,” declaring himself an “unabashed pro-law” and then another clip in which Wolf described his offers as “probably the best recruiting poster you can get for being a New York City cop.”

Oliver agreed but noted that “the recruiting poster will always be a propaganda version of the hero-washed truth, a truth that is often very ugly.”

This doesn’t mean people can’t watch it, Oliver added, but viewers should keep in mind that they’re watching fiction. “It’s important to remember how far away from representing anything resembling reality is,” he said.

These misconceptions can have real world effects. The researchers found that “viewers of criminal dramas are more likely to believe that police succeed in reducing crime, use force only when necessary, and that misconduct usually does not lead to false confessions,” according to the Study 2015 in Criminal Justice and Behavior titled “The Role of Entertainment in Perceptions of Police Use of Force,” which Oliver cited on his show.

Mariska Hargitay, the “SVU” actress who plays Olivia Benson, the tough but sympathetic detective at the center of the show, said those real-world influences cut the other way, too. in 2020 interviewHargitay said fans told her that because of “SVU,” they knew what to do when they were raped, made sure to report it, and had a rape kit — “and they have confidence in it.”

“Most of all they don’t feel lonely anymore,” said Hargitay, as her voice cracked. “For me, it’s when I started hearing these stories when I knew it wasn’t just a TV show anymore.

“It was much more than that,” she added.

Neil, the actress who played the sexual crimes prosecutor, said she learned “the hard way” that the criminal justice system she helped create on screen is fiction, though she didn’t explain how it’s done. Tweet it. She asked people to tell her if SVU had given “victims who report real-life sex crimes unrealistic expectations that the cops would care or the crimes would be solved.”

A woman responded that when she reported her case to the police, she did not feel believed and no one was following up on her case. “When I called to verify my case years later instead of taking me to an investigator, I was cut off,” she added. It’s been nine years since I reported what happened to the police, “and I still don’t have information about my condition.”

Neal thanked her for sharing and agreed that there would be “a lot of justice” if Olivia Benson was a real detective.

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