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Institutional and Personal Reformation
By
Connor MacKenzie
y the start of Season Three of The Wire, it is no
secret to the viewer that Baltimore is a troubled
city in need of answers to the abundance of
complex issues plaguing it. This season examines the
philosophy of reform in the institutions of Baltimore as
well as the personal lives of the city’s inhabitants and
the expectations they battle. With regard to whether or
not well-meaning individuals can effectively reform an
institution, ultimately, The Wire presents the dark
reality that no one person can correct the wrongs of the
system because of the entrenched nature and
operations of the institution as well as the impeding
self-interests of those who are in charge. The Wire
does show that there is still hope for individuals to
reform themselves against the perceived behavioral
customs that would be expected from someone
working within a specific institution. There are three
citywide institutions that this essay examines in the
context of attempts to enact reformation in Baltimore.
First, City Hall exerts pressure to reduce the violent
crime rate causing the Police Department to adjust
accordingly. Second, there is the examination of how
society should handle the War on Drugs and addiction
through one radical experiment. And, third, drug
trafficking organizations explore whether or not they
can cooperate and sell narcotics in a legitimate, non-
B
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