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CCPOA Runs Corcoran TV 'Ads'

The California Correctional Peace Officers Association (CCPOA), a union representing California prison guards, has launched a year-long campaign of 30-second television ads aimed at improving the public perception of Corcoran prison guards.

The five 30-second ads all begin with the line: "Corcoran officers: They walk the toughest beat in the state," and began airing on cable channels in the Fresno area in September, 1999. Only in Fresno, no other television market. And the ads are only about Corcoran guards, no mention of guards who work in other prisons.

The trial of eight Corcoran guards who were indicted on federal charges stemming from the infamous staging of gladiator fights was scheduled to begin in March, 2000. One month after the Corcoran TV ad spots debuted. In Fresno. Where the eight Corcoran guards face a jury trial.

Jonathan B. Conklin, assistant U.S. attorney, said prosecutors are concerned about the potential impact of the advertisements on jurors, who will all be drawn from the Fresno area. "Any attempts to taint the jury pool" before the trial would be taken "very seriously" by his office, Conklin told The Fresno Bee.

Jeff Thompson, a CCPOA representative denied that the commercials are designed to influence potential jurors. He said the TV spots are designed to "balance the impressions" created by "slanted" media reports.

"The idea is to get the rest of the word out to the public what it is these officers are dealing with," Thompson told the Bee. "Allegations raised by inmates get front-page treatment, but exonerations of officers never get any play, and it's unfair to officers."

Source: The Fresno Bee

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