Simon said when he lived in Baltimore in the early 1980s, police "thought they could arrest their way out of the drug problem" and drug-related arrests went up while other arrests went down.
These arrests didn't happen in a vacuum, Simon added, noting that there's a generation of children who grew up without a father at home, and that the unemployment rates among young black men are higher than the national average. "[Those arrested] come back out completely tarred," he said. "They can't vote. They can't participate in their community. They've lost track of family."
Obama's administration has pointed to television as a force for humanizing and shifting public opinion before. In 2012, Vice President Biden voiced his support for same-sex marriage and said, "I think 'Will & Grace' probably did more to educate the American public than almost anything anybody's ever done so far." Since "Will & Grace" ended in 2006, support for same-sex marriage has risen from 42 percent to 55 percent in May.
Obama can only hope television is half as effective at changing opinion on crime as Biden said it was for LGBT issues.